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BEAT ROMANTIC • Talkdemonic

Don't be lulled to sleep by the tranquility that greets you on Talkdemonic's latest work, Beat Romantic. Relaxation will leave you prone to a ferocious attack; and that is unbecoming of leisure. The duo of Lisa Molinaro and Kevin O'Connor are doing well to represent a genre all their own as they near climax. The sound--a fusion of drum and bass, dub, hip hop, classical, jazz, country, soul and more--is laced together so subtly as to create no sense of clash. While some music fails in its endeavor to blend disparate genres and their instrumentation, the melding here is smooth and never jumbled. An instrumentally-inclined Stereolab. 

The album opens with the soft awakening of "Veraison," just over a minute of subliminal bliss. Thence commences the thud of bass and drum, as displayed on "Mountaintops In Caves." You begin to see the dichotomous relations between hard and soft, simple, and complex, refined and revolutionary, that makes this album special. "Bering" begins with one, then two loops of Molinaro's viola--slow and sweet--then is awoken by a shaker. This melds nicely into the opening of "Human Till Born," featuring a drum and bass cum viola spectacle that makes the desk bounce with ecstasy.

"Sept With Smith" is soft and sweet--with an interlude of Air-esque synth., and enough heart to bring tears--seeming like some sort of apology. Revving up the emotion, "Manhattan '81" has a Sesame Street synth-made piano climb-and-descent, and a bass line that breaks loose toward an end reticent of the beginning. This rolls seamlessly into the opening of "Mountain Cats," somewhat reminiscent of the dreamy ocean soundscape of Ween's "Mollusk." It is the rise and fall from passive to aggressive that keeps Beat Romantic so formidable.

The album is aggressively relaxed throughout--displaying a classical musician's etiquette, with fits of savage bombastic rage. O'Connor's drum is twitchy, and schizophrenic, recalling the best of the hypersexual drumming of Lowell Dunbar of Sly and Robbie. The viola brandished by Molinaro is deep, and heavy, exulting in a controlled frenetic spirit--comparable to Eric Dolphy's vicious bellows through an alto sax.

Truth in Meaning. This phrase is attributed to many, and understood by few (including this author). The French word veraison is most clearly defined as meaning--and the word verite is roughly translated as truth. As the titles of the opening and closing song on Beat Romantic, they merit heed. Do they ask the audience to seek truth in meaning? Are they creating their own truth? The words confound--but the music speaks. Instead of straining for an answer, much better to declare that Talkdemonic are the truth--and have established a system of meaning that resonates with clarity!
• Robert Karmin

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