Isn’t that scene where Spinal Tap all emerge on stage with each member pounding a bass guitar while David St. Hubbins preaches some long, hard, and not to mention meaningful, truths about the woman with the ‘Big Bottom’ just completely hilarious! Italian instro-doomers Morkobot’s set-up is kinda like that, but without the “bun cakes”, “mud flaps” or indeed any lyrics at all. Plus they have bigger chops. Composed using just two basses and a drum kit, their fourth record ‘Morbo’ is a genre-rattling mystery mobile ride through some way off-kilter rhythmic vortexes.
The closest I came to genre pigeon-holing ‘Morbo’ was to come up with a new one which I have entitled ‘Djent n’ Bass’. Whilst the ‘Bot’s crunching groove and undoubtedly doomy credentials are never in doubt, the influences for this record lean toward the darker side of electronica and techno, along with the polyrhythmic assault of the newly established Djent subgenre as pioneered by Meshuggah and Textures. Lurching through seven eerily entitled tracks, each of varying levels of weird, the faceless trio of Lin, Lan and Len (who by the way claim to be simply the messengers of the unearthly “Dominator of magnetic strengths” – Morkobot itself…) take in the variations of progressive jazz, meld them to the jammed spirit of psychedelia and force them through riff-fields strung tighter than Monica Belluci’s bikini straps. Crucially, the threesome don’t have any time to rest with their ideas as, with just bass and drums, plus the odd synthesized distortion break, it would very quickly stagnate into a worrying mass of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRM.
Opener ‘Ultramorth’ quickly sets the tone: pounding punk-edged drums accompanied by the two basses, each offering a deceptively differing tone throughout, twisting and squirming through 7.5 minutes of juddering boogie, robotic enchantment and riffs of colossal girth. Cranking the ante into a titanic chugging passage which sounds like Mårten Hagström wanking off R2D2, a more morbid sensation takes hold as you realise you’ve gone from grinning like a chimp at banana-time to a nodding, unblinking heavy metal urchin. ‘Orkotomb’ is even more fragmented, a brooding duel between the lumbering basses and the shape-shifting drums. This broodiness continues on to ‘Orbothord’, where a choir of dirty-house DJs are pushed off a four-stringed skyscraper, their bodies demolishing into a concrete floor of low end rubble. ‘Oktrombo’ (I’m starting to get the feeling that these black-cloaked ghosts like their anagrams…) is faster; more laser-precision mechanised drum beats and riffs that weave and duck like electrical frequencies oscillating over an element of evil dark matter.
‘MöR’ briefly tries to take on a more traditional structure but falls on its arse within seconds to resort back to sounding like someone twanging a metal ruler over a table edge and then getting The Chemical Brothers to remix it 37,000 different ways over an 8-minute madathon (another new word I just invented to describe a marathon being run by crazy people). There’s some respite from the volume here as the Big ‘Bot try their hand at esoteric landscaping before churning back into da bonkas riddums on ‘Oktomorb’. This is a shorter, darker piece, which feels like it could have been written on a piano, before the pianist gave up to go join some sadistic underground French-mime-based orgy club. Perhaps.
Closer ‘Obrom’ sums up the whole experience: churning, mind-frazzling, rolling riffage collides with sense-eluding background synths to sound like a fairground ride atop Mount Doom. There’s a good fistful of Meshuggah going down here, with the final bombast very reminiscent of ‘Electric Red’ from said foundation-formers crunching ‘ObZen’ record.
Supernatural Cat has once again come up with the goods as far as heavy and all-out-bonkers music is concerned. ‘Morbo’ is not for everyone, but despite its simple two/three instrument recipe, it remains fresh, fast and interesting throughout, with the total running time short enough to not hit Boredom City. With more than just a Big Bottom low end, Morkobot offer a whole concept of weirdness to accompany what has got to be one of the most brazen examples of robot rock currently available.
Scribed by: Pete Green