Ghostland Observatory – [Album]

Monday, 24 March 2008

After two and a half minutes of anticipation and grand orchestration on an almost non-track fittingly titled “Opening Credits,” Ghostland Observatory’s new disc transitions to the monotonous strains of “Heavy Heart.” With vocals that sound like they’ve been hijacked from Jack White and a re-mixed sound of a telephone busy signal, the track is menacing, but settles into a danceable mix.

The first half of Robotique Majestique borrows from GO’s 2006 effort Paparazzi Lightning, with new smooth groove “The Band Marches On” mapping easily to the titular track of “Paparazzi Lightning.” But the second half decidedly channels 80s rock, best exemplified in “No Place for Me,” featuring 80s-metal-style vocals a la Mötley Crüe or Whitesnake.

Indeed, the last couple of tracks on the album perfectly summon 80s-era tunes. The final track, “Free Heart Lover,” calls to mind a trippy drugged-up version of a mid-80s jam along the lines of John Waite’s “Missing You.”

While Ghostland Observatory doesn’t have the glossy flair of the leaders of the electropop movement, French funksters Daft Punk, their sound gives a grittier industrial vibe. Here, electro elopes with rock and roll—though the result isn’t quite pure marital bliss. At times the sound can be a bit uneven or abrasive, though GO does score a solid cut with “Robotique Majestique,” a name which calls to mind Daft Punk’s greatest hits collection Musique. 

The album’s strongest track may be “Club Soda,” a purely instrumental dance mix that begins with the sound of a can being popped open. The back beat sounds as if it could be a slowed-down, spaced out re-imagining of the track featured in the Andy Samberg SNL short “Andy Punches.” While it doesn’t manage to soar in the way “Sad Sad City” or “Piano Man” did, “Club Soda” is as close as Ghostland Observatory gets to creating a song that could belong on a Daft Punk album.

Put out on Ghostland Observatory’s own Trashy Moped label (the duo clearly has an affection for intriguing adjective/noun combinations), Robotique Majestique may be a more listenable album than previous releases, but boasts fewer standout tracks. “Dancing on My Grave,” the disc’s first full-fledged single, successfully merges the worlds of rock and electronica, and includes a weird bit of Wizard of Oz-ish chimes towards the end for good measure. 

While Ghostland Observatory may not be as polished as their French brethren, you have to admire the duo (composed of vocalist/guitarist Aaron Behrens and drummer/beat-master/keyboardist Thomas Ross Turner) for summoning this sound out of Texas and using the word “lover” just as much as anyone from France.

Robotique Majestique is out now on Trashy Moped.

More on Ghostland Observatory here:

Download – "Heavy Heart" from Robotique Majestique – [mp3]

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