Watching artists advance is one of the highlights of writing for Rats on the Run. With Go Robot I get to do just that. Following 2019’s singles ‘Smoke’ & ‘The Gallows’, with their delicate electronics and stop-motion jitter, with their textures that darkened through both, comes the long worked-on debut EP. ‘Addict’ builds on those tracks and progresses, spinning outwards in cool new directions.
The studio project of Oxford’s Zach Wilmott is a vehicle for experimentation. Through five tracks we explore isolation, addiction and alienation through guitar driven garage, ‘Kid A’ electronica and melancholic synthpop. Each track stands apart and sits neatly defined while tying into a sculpted aesthetic. Every part is fine-tuned and carefully worked while maintaining a human-touched looseness.
The peaceful unease that runs through these songs, through all but the opening track, owes its presence to Zach Wilmott’s vocals. While the sounds that surround rise and fall in their movements, it’s the voice that glows anxious and smooth. They rest back in the mix, they move calm and unfussed, they drift through high notes with a detached emotion. And while they extend their range through the slow moving flicker of ‘Unravel’,’ Smoke’, ‘In The Dark’ and ‘The Gallows’, on ‘Caged Pigeon’ they’re pressing on bullish. Gone are the warm sounds of nervous and angst, here we spin, spit and yell unrestrained. As a fierce slice of Wire meets Magazine agro with a distinctly snide humour to boot, it’s a brilliantly brash EP opening.
‘Unravel’ is ‘Caged Pigeon’s opposite. In a buzz of ominous synths and glitch-busy percussion, we jerk, twist and sweep through detuned crescendos that cling tight to ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’. Nothing crowds out the voice, the sounds match it. We find space in the drum’s frantic rhythms. We strip down and trip to the scope of the track, its familiar and awkward, rewarding. As we move towards the end of track hi-tension build-up, the mix of synths, programmed jitter and live instruments merge to produce the EP’s darkest parts. It’s another deft switch in direction.
‘In The Dark’ takes those themes but they’re prettified. Arpeggios move as they tumble and tweak around the EP’s finest vocals. Those high notes are stretched with conviction and that nervousness sounds like its urgent. There’s a nostalgic hit to the synthwork as the drum sounds run structured and flowing, it’s Four-Tet in three minutes that pass by in seconds and begs to be played on repeat.
As for the rest you can read them elsewhere, find ‘Smoke’ and ‘The Gallows’ in the archives. What we have here is a self-assured debut that worms its way into your playlists. And with the rate and the range of song-play demonstrated, Go Robot requires close attention. More of the same please, keep changing. Catch the video and links just below.