“Fugazi meets Mingus." - Drowned in Sound
"A cunning marriage of jazz, spoken word and punk" - The Quietus
"Exploratory pioneers." - BBC Radio 3 Late Junction
Improvisation and experimentation is at the core of Robocobra Quartet's DNA, whether it be in the fluidity of their line-up (six musicians tagging in and out to make up the live touring quartet) or in their unique self-produced records which flirt with choral groups and string sections - almost intentionally at odds with their ostensible roots as a post-punk band.
These juxtapositions are just the beginning of the complex world of Robocobra Quartet - a band serious about their music but humorous in their approach, including members with no musical training alongside members with music conservatoire pedigree. The result is a collective of musicians inspired by Stravinsky and Black Flag in equal measures.
On stage, the band are protons and electrons circling drummer-vocalist Chris W Ryan; meticulous arrangements and on-the-spot improvisations hang on every word spoken, sung and shouted by Ryan. These words and rhythms are what propel the music of Robocobra Quartet forward (or upside-down if the mood is right) and concoct a sound that is groove-driven but cerebral too, invoking the likes of Fugazi, Talking Heads and contemporaries such as Squid and Black Country, New Road.
The free nature of the band's live shows led to them being embraced early on by jazz and prog fanatics just as much as rock fans - once finding themselves in Europe touring a jazz club one night, a house show the next and a pop festival the night after that. These unmatched live performances often channel-hop from moments of joy and playfulness to periods of intense fury, earning the band invitations to Montreux Jazz Festival, Latitude Festival and as far as Inversia Festival in the polar north of Russia whilst receiving acclaim from the likes of The Quietus, Jazzwise and BBC Radio 6.