Ghostland Observatory

Sept 13 • Radiodown

When you think of pulsing dance beats and histrionic vocals, the first thing that comes to mind is probably nowhere near Austin, Texas, in the philosophical or geographical sense. And yet that is precisely where Ghostland Observatory’s ass-shaking, mirror-ball-and-adrenaline Synth Pop/Dance Rock originates. 

Frontman Aaron Behrens has drawn positive comparisons to Freddie Mercury and Prince (although Sparks’ Russell Mael and The Rapture’s Luke Jenner aren’t far off the beam either), and drummer/producer Thomas Turner looks to the likes of Daft Punk and Laurent Garnier for his Electronic influence, but is equally enamored of Rock innovators like David Bowie and The Clash. As a result, Ghostland Observatory is a wonderfully blended hybrid of synth-washed Electronic textures and the indoor lightning of slashing, bashing Indie Rock. Behrens and Turner are certainly not the first guys to travel this blippy, trippy path, but they do it with a rare sense of humor and a definite panache, as evidenced by their 2007 Band of the Year award from the Austin American-Statesman, Austin’s respected daily newspaper.

On Ghostland Observatory’s first three albums, the duo offered a more densely arranged atmosphere, while last year’s Codename: Rondo found the band in a more stripped down frame of mind. Although not everyone was pleased with Rondo’s simple, synth-bound Funk beats and dialed-back vocal presence, the general opinion was that the lower-key Rondo was still every bit as entertaining as its slightly more outrageous predecessors. 

The fact is that Ghostland Observatory is best witnessed in its natural habitat — on a stage performing live — which may explain why the band has had almost as many live releases as studio albums. There may just be two guys up there, but rest assured, Ghostland Observatory are the champions and they will, they will rock you. (Brian Baker)