Band: Ursa Robotica
Title: Dischord & Dancefloors
Release Date: 2009
Review By: Scott L
01. Discord & Dancefloors
02. Disco’s Dead And We Made It A Zombie
03. Swords Don’t Need Reloading
04. I’ve Never Taken So Long To Cross The Street
05. It’s Not Cannibalism, Those Eating Are Already Among The Dead
06. We’re Going Zombie
07. We Stole Your Headphones And Snare Drum
08. Shotgun Shells And Strawberry Sorbet
09. Tic Tacs For Tic Tic
10. Boot To The Head
11. Finale: The World Has Ended, What Do We Do Now?
Who says the dead can’t dance? With a CD title like “Dischord & Dancefloors” and a wealth of references to the living dead, I have to assume that there’s a connection there somewhere. And while it might not be quite the “shamble to your right, shamble to your left, spin around and bite your partner” variety… the living dead seem to be the topic of choice as far as Ursa Robotica is concerned. But, hey, for a band whose name could be translated as “pertaining to robot bears”, a little zombie talk now and again shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Then again, who said anything about “a little bit”?
Ursa Robotica is a 2-piece from Providence, Rhode Island that plays a slightly industrial sounding brand of experimental electronica. The talent is obvious in spite of the somewhat low end production values. There just seems to be a missing element that would round out the sound and help the songs congeal. The general feel of the songs is like a patchwork of 80’s movie sound tracks (can you say Beverly Hills Cop?), video game theme music, and quasi-danceable electronic interludes overlaid with a variety of vocal styles. But the vocals tend to drop out here and there in the mix. Some are spoken word, some are more hardcore, still others are screamotive. All are effects laden. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy listening to this CD at times… because I did. The problem struck me as one of consistency. The typical track has a cool intro followed by alternating rhythms, samples, and vocals. You come away with the strange feeling that you both liked and disliked many of the songs on “Dischord & Dancefloors”. Which, I’ll assume was not the desired response.
If I was gonna draw comparisons to Ursa Robotica’s overall musical style, which obviously I am, I’d go with the likes of The Bloody Beetroots, Siriusmo, and Dilemn.
Lyrically, this CD is all about the zombies. Why is that, you ask. I’ll leave that question for someone far more brainy than I. Get it? Zombies… brainy. Anyway, any message that was hoped for in this CD is overshadowed, if not swallowed whole, by lines about loading shotguns and blowing heads off. Frankly, not my cup of tea. At least not as a steady diet. The song “I’ve Never Taken So Long To Cross The Street” is proof of these guys’ ability to adeptly create quality prose. Consider, “just another Sunday morning, in the queen city that still sleeps / there’s not a soul to be found and it’s giving me the creeps / I’ve seen it before, the calm before the storm / it’s the surest sign that dangers formed, inside the comforts of my own mind / where the only virtue’s time / and the fury of a thousand sermons conducted, cannot save us from the monster that we’ve constructed, he who is the damned will never walk in fear, for he shall never walk alone”. On the other hand, the song “Disco’s Dead And We Made It A Zombie” which is far more representative of the general bent of the songs on this CD, says, “it’s the zombie apocalypse! / humanity is gone, society is abandoned / we’re all at the mercy of the walking dead / these sirens they’re loud in my ears / this cities gone there’s no order here / our feeble attempts, our goal unclear / the zombies keep coming they have no fear / humanity is gone, society is abandoned / we’re all at the mercy of the walking dead / shotguns loaded, it’s life or death / this ain’t no game, now shoot ‘em in the head / will this gore-fest ever end, someone please tell me / will normal life return again? / I don’t know”. And, honestly, “Tic Tacs For Tic Tic” is so dark I found it’s message seriously disconcerting.
I can see what Ursa Robotica is trying to accomplish musically, if not lyrically. And I think that they’re pushing in the right direction. However, if they want to be taken seriously by anybody other than George Romero or some World of Warcraft addict whose skin tone is a greenish pallor with a light dusting of Cheese Puff powder, something’s gotta give. If they’re ever gonna be more than just a pair of guys screwing around with some high-tech toys writing songs to crack each other up about the zombie apocalypse, they’re gonna need to ditch the adolescence and write for the everyman in the audience. This really could work. The talent is there. And they definitely have an ear for the style. They’ve just gotta buckle down and make it happen.
The standout track was definitely “I’ve Never Taken So Long To Cross The Street”, which as I mentioned earlier is actually a pretty phenomenal piece of work. Very hip. Very catchy. Very danceable. Listening to it, it’s hard not to imagine a huge crowd moving in some packed, low light club.
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I would hope that this is all taken as it’s intended; as constructive thoughts based solely on my personal opinion. Although, I have to admit that I also read Tyler’s review over on his site. So, while I don’t know Paul, what I know about Chris, leads me to believe that this will be taken in the spirit it was intended… as a hand up. Which is always a good thing.
Overall: Ursa Robotica’s 11-song CD, “Dischord & Dancefloors”, was hit or miss for me. There was a lot that I liked and there was some that I didn’t like. Some of that was purely subjective. But all in all, I think that this is a great first step toward a sound and focus that could carry Ursa Robotica into a market that is largely unpioneered today. So check it out, leave me some feedback, and we’ll see you when we see you. Oh, and Bub says, “Uuuuggghhhhh. More brains.”