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“Fugazi meets Mingus” - Drowned in Sound
“Genius” - BBC Radio 6
“A cunning marriage of jazz, spoken word, punk and avant-garde” - The Quietus
“Exploratory pioneers” - BBC Radio 3 Late Junction
“Barely of this world” - DIY Magazine
Bolstered by support from the PRS Foundation and Arts Council, Robocobra Quartet cross genre lines, drawing influence from post-punk and jazz improvisation. The group improvise not only musically but also in their conduct - producing their own recordings and refraining from a fixed line-up.
An album of extremes, Plays Hard to Get (2018) is the follow-up to the Northern Ireland Music Prize-nominated Music for All Occasions (2016). A musical tug-of-war, this irascible collection of songs frequently turns on a dime - insisting on your full attention.
Project-managed from the drum throne of vocalist, drummer and producer Chris Ryan, disparate nods to modern classical music, hardcore and free jazz battle together and often stack upon one another. This heaped approach is clearest on I Shouldn’t Have Watched the Film What Lies Beneath (When I Was Twelve), where contrapuntal choral vocal writing is met with a bass riff channeling 80s hardcore. The extremes don’t stop there - humorous titles are met with downbeat barely-spoken lyrics that often ruminate and sometimes exasperate. “It’s been a while since liquid on airlines.” announces the opener Short Stretch of Day, a barely 2-minute nod to 70s Pop orchestration, while You’ll Wade negotiates friends’ failed suicide attempts: “We’ll find a kinder use for that unused noose / for that knotted lasso”.
Plays Hard to Get pulls you like a rag doll through its nine tracks of oblique hints and ideas. From the violent saxophone screeches of Bar 37 Will Shock You! to the serene plate-reverb drenched closing to Try Hard, you’ll be left to your own rumination on what just happened after its 35 minutes are complete.
Robocobra Quartet’s unmatched live performances channel-hop from moments of joy and playfulness to periods of intense fury, earning them invitations to festivals across the world including Latitude Festival (UK), SXSW (USA), The Great Escape (UK), and Into The Great Wide Open (NL).