Living Ain’t Easy — The Outer Limits of Anti-Capitalist Irish Jazz – The Irish Times
Thank goodness for the Robocobra Quartet. If they didn’t exist, Irish jazz would have to invent them. Every scene needs its outer limits defined and explored, and over the past decade, drummer Chris Ryan’s ever-evolving Belfast collective has bravely occupied the frontier where jazz and improvisation meet post-punk, l rock art and revolutionary politics.
Their 2016 debut album, Music for all Occasions, was a liberating explosion of drums, bass and horns (guitars are not allowed in the Robocobra universe) that refracted Mingus and Zappa through a Black Flag prism, and the follow-up, 2018′s Plays Hard to Get, further expanded his studio palette.
Now their third, Living Isn’t Easy, is a true concept album, a suite of connected sound images about the anxieties of modern life that weave Ryan’s spoken-word narratives through layers of groove, brass and synths. spatial. Wellness, the album’s second track, was released as a single in April and, while it didn’t exactly trouble the tops of the pop charts, it is a verbatim reading of easy health advice from a magazine article that becomes an archaic satire of modern worship. of self-realization.
Beneath the situationist critique, there are grooves, horns and solos, particularly on the album’s centerpiece, Chromo Sud, that might have Robocobra accused of being, you know, a jazz band, but Living Isn’t Easy probably best presents itself as a critique of late capitalism. And God knows we need it.