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Talkdemonic

Beat Romantic

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The goal of instrumental-only acts is pretty straightforward: Don't make audio wallpaper unless you're Eno. The Portland duo Talkdemonic constructs intriguing multidimensional compositions with the brick and mortar of Kevin O'Connor's drum kit and Lisa Molinaro's cello. Beat Romantic, the pair's sophomore effort, is a suite of 16 vignettes, most clocking in around two minutes. They contrast O'Connor's programmed cut-and-paste hip-hop beats (think Four Tet) and polyrhythmic drum assault with soaring melodies, usually courtesy Molinaro's strings. O'Connor also plays Wurlitzer, bass, concertina and synths, and uses the banjo's percussive nature -- along with Molinaro's pizzicato attack -- to add to the rhythmic thrum. Just when your ears demand melody, Beat Romantic usually delivers, especially on the transcendent "Bering," "Mountain Cats" and "Hillside Monarch." There, melodic lines seem to rise organically from the planned chaos of programmed beats and cymbal crashes, resulting in textured arrangements that command your attention. Instrumental mission accomplished.

4 stars

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