Review: Morkobot – Morbo

Morbo is as angular and precise as any self-proclaimed “robot rock” record should be. Like the individual mechanisms of a machine, Morkobot’s three components (drums and two bass guitars) often manage to play three rhythms across eachother simultaneously, in a complex mesh of snare crack, cymbal crash, staccato low-end grumbles and effected harmonics. Sometimes the bass guitars attack eachother – locked into vicious stabs of call-and-response – while other times they run in begrudging unison, thickening each riff into an overload of distortion. Zu feel like a worthy reference point; the rhythms often ping with the same sort of playful, jazzy elasticity, while the bass tone makes a similar alternation between croaks and scrapes of the lower registers and those warbling high notes.

But there’s too much life juddering through Morkobot’s jams for this to be strictly “robot rock”, and Morbo is less about machine precision and more about human discipline and restraint. This is the unmistakable sound of human players attacking their instruments with an all-out ferocity and then cutting straight into silence, taming blood rushes into controllable bursts. I suppose there’s something rather machine-like about how Morkobot are either “on” or “off”, with many of these riffs being defined by a Morse code-style combination of presence and absence – dynamics are predominantly fixed to the two simple variants of “silence” and “sound”, and rarely does Morbo explore the gradient in between (aside from that sprawling outro to “MoR”). But for all the calculated synchronicity that drives the band’s composition, there’s a primitive aggression in the execution that attributes Morkobot to man more than machine. “Robot rock” they may be, but I’m intrigued to see if they can resist having a good old humanoid “rock out” to this stuff in the live environment.