Math rock is a tricky sound to get right. Unlike the sweeping elegance of sister style prog rock, math rock emphasizes jarring riffs and somewhat dissonant melodies, and getting nifty licks to work in some coherent song structure is quite difficult. Swiss upstarts Oruko understand this and have taken the Sargent House-approved instrumental math rock route to a good bit of success on this debut EP. Think Adebisi Shank and Tera Melos but filtered through Scale The Summit’s prog- and post-rock-infused template. Don’t be fooled; FRCTL is chocked-full of really neat little riffs and hip-shaking mathematical goods, but Oruko already show a keen understanding of how to inject all the fun trappings of math rock into more palatable songs.
Things take some time to get to the meat of the album, as “Jamaican Peritel” and “Chevreuil” lack much of anything truly remarkable (they are merely fine). Though, once “Abba” starts up, this EP hits its stride, with the final four songs keeping up the quality, through varied tempos and styles. Bits of post-hardcore, prog, post-rock, and, obviously, math rock come to the fray at various points, but it’s a credit to Oruko that the last four tracks are consistently good and coherent in scope, making the latter two-thirds of the record a real treat and a sign of the promise this Swiss band has. They clearly understand how to meld pretty soundscapes with punchy, almost danceable mathy riffs and licks, and the songs carry a voice of their own, despite the fact that Oruko are an instrumental group. It starts off a bit rocky, but if you give FRCTL the time, the rewards are plenty, and the potential is even greater for more in the future.