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Beat Romantic

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Album Review

If a mad-scientist of experimental music combined the styles of folk, ambient, and rock in a test tube, you might end up with the album Beat Romantic. The folk-tronic instrumental duo Talkdemonic weaves together a lot of sounds on this disc that have been arranged together quite seamlessly in the past, despite their disparate backgrounds. The band adds moments of purposeful disjointedness to this mix, with the apparent goal of creating small amounts of tension, much like post-Mr. Bungle outfit Secret Chiefs 3, who have an altogether similar, though much more frenetic sound."White Gymnasium" illustrates this well: a snare-heavy rock & roll rhythm section is virtually the only constant in the song. Sounds of flute, concertina, and harmonium all take over the melody at various points — a melody that has something of a refrain but certainly no arc — blurring the lines between pop and ambient, usually with enjoyable results. "Woody Shelves/Dusty Florescent" has a refrain that's performed entirely by a basic drum kit — an innovative idea that's only flaw is that the line is very distinctly alt-rock. It can leave the listener in a conventional rock headspace, expecting a vocal track or even just a pointed melody that isn't there. This speaks to both the overall strengths and weaknesses of Beat Romantic; the various artistic styles on the disc rely on different sensibilities, creating moments when that disruptive style serves mostly to make things clash or fall flat. The effect, however is quite intentional, because this album was not made to lure in the lovers of each influence it draws upon; it's a straight-ahead experimental album for fans of the genre. Listeners who lack regard for the conventions of pop, rock, folk, and ambient as conventions in and of themselves will be very pleased with this record. Others will probably require the patience to sit through multiple listens before they're able to leave their expectations at the door.


Formed: December, 2002 in Portland, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Talkdemonic are an experimental indie rock duo begun in December 2002 as an outlet for multi-instrumentalist Kevin O'Connor to satisfy his fixation with instrumental hip-hop and electronic music. Fitting in amidst the budding "folktronic hop" scene, the other half to O'Connor -- who plays drums, guitar, synths, bass, programming beats, and much more -- is Lisa Molinaro on viola and synths. Their first album, Mutinysunshine, was recorded over the course of a year and issued by Portland's Lucky Madison...
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Beat Romantic, Talkdemonic
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