Album Reviews

Talkdemonic – Beat Romantic

(Tangled Up) UK release date: 17 September 2007

Beat Romantic? The beats are present and correct in Kevin O’Connor’s gleeful way round his drum kit. The romanticism is provided by the more feminine charms of the strings of Lisa Molinaro who soften the edges of the beats and add another layer of narrative to the music herein.

Talkdemonic are Portland USA duo Kevin O’Connor and Lisa Molinaro who conjure up a multi-instrumental cloak of electronic-folk experimental tunes that drift, float, soothe and etch deep into your brain’s grooves.

Like Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mum and Mogwai but altogether more rural they create a neo-psychedelic of hedge of noise that intrigues and offers up its pleasures slowly over repeated plays, and is that rare thing, an album best listened to as a whole piece.

Such grandiose claims for an instrumental album would sit well with the likes of boffins like Brian Eno, classical pieces or the occasional film soundtrack, and it is in this category that the unlikely named Talkdemonic sit. Their brand of widescreen experiments which filters a host of influences from jazz, folk, electronica, hip-hop and samples is like ushering in a crowd of bees and then trying to name-tag them as they buzz about in merry abandon.

Beautiful and complex, simple and buzzing with dense tunes packed with intricate melodies that nestle up close in their definitely undemonic way and intimate take on the genre. This is a special album that deserves a place in your �mood music’ catalogue.

String arrangements unfold, flow, repeat and fold in on themselves like Tortoise‘s post-rockisms but with violas, Wurlitzers and banjos nestling on a delicate, subtle bed of electronics that have been teased and treated into new shapes and sounds. This mix of archaic and new technologies could be wilful awkwardness in others’ hands but here they complement each other in an unobtrusive way as the best tools available for the job.

The range and colour of tones and moods on display here add up to a audio sketchbook, and the brevity of the tunes mean they hover on the edges of existence with a sparse beauty in the economy of their line. Despite the briefness the album hangs together as a complete piece.

To single out individual tracks is like unravelling a tapestry but as introductions go Veraison with its looping viola kicks things off sets the scene. Dusty Fluorescent/Wooden Shelves bursts into life on a barrage of drumming by O’Connor after a deceptive banjo plucked intro. The restlessness of downbeat �tronica Skyscraper contrasts with the calm acoustic passages on Sept With Smith.

Highlights, if they have to be taken, are the soaring harmonics of (by their standards epic at three and a half minutes) Bering which acts as the album’s centerpiece of lush orchestration disintegrating into the hip-hop influences of the brutal drum attacks and fills that pepper the incoming Human Til Born.

So hats off to the Talkdemonic duo who have created with Beat Romantic a worthy and enduring addition to an over-crowded and often over-hyped genre. The inevitable comparisons to that other bedroom beat-freak bleeper, Kieran Hebden and his Four Tet, are not doing Talkdemonic justice. They have a more pastoral feel leaning towards the spacious elements of Talk Talk or Bark Psychosis with added beats.

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Talkdemonic – Beat Romantic
Talkdemonic – Beat Romantic