Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Ghostland Observatory, Robotique Majestique

The worlds of rock and dance music have been coming together of late.  Dance has led the way and releases from Daft Punk, Justice, Digitalism and the groups heard on the Rock the Disco collections (Vol.1 and Vol. 2) rocketed 2007 into the dance stratosphere.  Movement has been slower on the rock side but it’s happening with !!! being a notable practitioner.  Ghostland Observatory are another band that approach the dance-rock fusion from the rock side.  They’re a duo out of Austin Texas composed of Aaron Behrens (vocals and guitar) and Thomas Ross Turner (drums, keyboards).  Robotique Majestique is their third album.

With one notable exception, Robotique Majestique welds most of the trappings of dance music to a fundamentally rock base.  Digitally constructed beats, layered production, synth effects and keyboards zooming in and out, it’s all there.  So far so good.  However the exception is a pretty important one.  Robotique Majestique is notably lacking in groove.  The rhythms are dull and plodding and the tempos are off.  Turner bashes away in monotonous, clunky tempos that bludgeon the listener.  This is a major problem because dance music is first and last about groove.  Dance music has to make you want to get up and move, Robotique Majestique makes you want to get up and put something else on the CD player.  Ghostland Observatory took the sound of dance music but left out the dance. 

Behrens’ vocal style doesn’t help matters.  He adopts the screeching falsetto that was popular among the hair-do bands of old.  This style is popular with some listeners who won’t mind it.  To me he too often sounds like a shrill 12 year old girl having a temper tantrum.

Listening to Robotique Majestique over and over again trying to find something good to say about it leads to the conclusion that this is dance-oriented music made by people who can’t dance.

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08/05/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I guess you’ve never seen them live, huh? Behrens used to be in a hip hop dance troupe. The man has some serious dance moves.

    You’re way off base in this. Do you dance??

    Comment by hyperemia | 08/05/2008 | Reply

  2. Holy shit, guy! People who can’t dance???? That is sooo laughable. Really! You have never seen them…obviously. Their front man dances insanely and infectiously…check them out…they are all over the net. And their fans are growing in number and we cannot keep from dancing either.

    Comment by Jennette | 08/06/2008 | Reply

  3. lol well it surely sounds like Ghostland Observatory are a different band live and both of the previous posters are right that I’ve not seen the band play. My comment about “people who can’t dance” was based solely on the clunky rhythms on the CD and should have been directed more to the beat guy than the dancing singer. As to whether I dance, readers can take a look at the reviews of Daft Punk, Justice, Digitalism and the Rock the Disco collections linked in this review and come to their own conclusions if they’re interested.

    To the previous posters, thanks for pointing out that the singer can tear it up live.

    Comment by kmurnane | 08/10/2008 | Reply


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