Ash is a Robot – Sympathetic Vibration Review

Hailing from Setúbal, Portugal, ASH IS A ROBOT are a four-piece post/melodic hardcore band, featuring Cláudio Anibal (vocals/keyboards), Francisco Caetano (bass/vocals), Renato Sousa (guitar/vocals), and Vasco Rydin (drums).

They began in 2012, and this year will see their first studio release, ‘Sympathetic Vibration’, their six track EP, described as being “a record without borders”.

The first song is ‘Sleep Paralysis’, a truly cheerful and upbeat number involving upbeat synth and catchy beats. The vocals throughout are smooth and inviting, and the song as a whole is funky, but this is made more intense by the guitar solo towards the end. This is the kind of track you put on to have a dance to or to cheer you up.

‘Ariadne’ follows, with a slightly more sombre note, beginning with some beautiful acoustic guitar. I enjoy how clear the various components of this song are made throughout. The guitar gives way for a heavy bassline, for instance, which gives the song a nice back and fourth dynamic between the instruments. The contrast between the powerful vocals and the soft backing vocals is a nice effect.

This is followed by ‘Cellardoor’, which, immediately, has a happier sound to it, with soft guitars and funky bass; reminiscent of 80’s police parodies. This song is a fun counter to its predecessor. Towards the end the song, it does hit a more serious note momentarily, with the vocals bordering on epic, but it returns to its previous joyful sound, incorporating a fantastic acoustic guitar solo.

The fourth song is ‘Karma Never Sleeps’, a slower song, with a wonderfully steady drum beat, which keeps everything flowing nicely. The chorus repeating is a nice touch, as it means the vocals, which are very clear to hear, are easy to learn, should you wish to join in. The synth solo at 2:04 helps reinforce the mood created by the rest of the song… a clever touch.

‘Philophobia (pt 1)’ takes influences seemingly from many genres, from classic rock, to salsa, to classical acoustic, and the effect is that the music is pleasant and charming; an impression that is undermined by some of the lyrics: “sometimes I feel so alone” for example. It’s interesting to listen to for this reason.

The EP ends with, unsurprisingly, ‘Philophobia (pt 2)’, which takes a more funky note but you can still hear sombre undertones, not something I would generally associate with funk. You can absolutely hear their influences, which include The Mars Volta, coming through in this song. The guitar solo at 3:06 is powerful and well-executed and the perfect way to build to the end of the song, and indeed, the EP.

The curious mix of emotions and genres presented by Ash is a Robot here make for a very interesting listening experience. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Sympathetic Vibration’, despite it not being my ‘go-to’ genre, and would recommend this to anyone looking for something new to try out.

Review by Eileen Bate

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