All present and correct?
Describing their sound as ‘down-tempo jazz-influenced hardcore’, Robocobra Quartet out of Belfast, sound like little else. Combining spoken-word vocals, effects-laden bass, and raw improvisation, Robocobra Quartet’s no holds barred approach has garnered the group a reputation as a must-see live act.
Centred on a howling drummer-vocalist and offset by menacing saxophones, the oblique song structures, angular rhythms and direct lyrics built around snippets of quotes and would-be adages allow for only absurd comparisons to reveal anything about their style. You’d be forgiven, for instance, for thinking that they sound like Richard Dawson playing with Brian McMahan, or Steve Reich composing music for Fugazi. Tracks such as ‘Find X’ and the tongue-in-cheek ‘Our Very Own Version Of November Rain’ drive home a bass driven Dischord-era post-hardcore sound laced with avant-garde, jazz-infused woodwind and rhythm sections standing sentinel to drive the music into more experimental territory, as the instrumentation coalesces around drummer-vocalist Chris Ryan’s brooding, meditative lyrics.
“Lyrically most of the topics come from conversations or direct quotes (or misconstrued quotes) from friends, enemies, acquaintances and family members.” says Ryan, “…it involves looking back on growing up and past experiences and memories. It’s interesting – memories are so malleable and the process of remembering things actually has a lot of room for error or creativity, so you can sort of mine your memory to come up with new ideas.”
Characterised by such idioms and narratives, Robocobra Quartet exemplify a both brazen and charismatic identity, which is not only drawn from their entrancing content but largely from its bold delivery. Other album tracks such as opener ‘Correct’ and more prominently ‘Straight Lines’ are visceral in their proclamation. They convey the post-everything nostalgia you might come to expect from latter day post-hardcore bands such as Self Defense Family or mewithoutyou, but also carry confidence in the candidness of their off-kilter narrative. All the while this is handled without pretention because the band genuinely possess the talent to pull it off.
This beguiling and idiosyncratic blend of styles and genres has taken them to festivals such as Electric Picnic & Brilliant Corners Jazz Festival supporting the release of a limited run lathe-cut 7″ on Smalltown America Records. Bolstered by support from BBC 6 Music and the PRS Foundation, 2016 has seen the band perform throughout the UK, Ireland & Europe whilst conducting recording sessions in studios and concert halls around Belfast. Now, this November, Robocobra Quartet will release a 12″ LP titled ‘Music For All Occasions’, and will embark on another UK tour featuring two Rough Trade in-store shows.