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September 28th, 2011 ROBERT HAM | Music Stories
 

Talkdemonic: Tuesday, Oct. 4

Portland’s finest working-class instrumental group tries a Hail Mary.

music.box.talkdemonic_3747Talkdemonic - IMAGE: Jason Quigley

[INSTRUMENTAL MOODS] I thought Talkdemonic was too big for day jobs. 

This is, after all, the same drums/electronics and viola duo that WW named Best New Band in 2005, that has toured the country with bands like the National and Handsome Furs, and has earned the respect of peers and notable blogs alike, thanks to three increasingly solid albums of vivid instrumental panoramas. Lisa Molinaro and bandmate Kevin O’Connor should have to worry about making music—not about making ends meet...right? 

As we sit down in a spacious house in Southeast Portland owned by Isaac Brock, staring down taxidermied animals and quaffing homemade honey lemonade, the two say they are kissing their workaday lives goodbye. “It’s coming to an end next week,” says Molinaro of her stint serving up noodles at Biwa. “I just put in notice because [the band] is taking up a lot of time. I want to make the push. It’s putting the foot over the edge of the cliff to see what happens.” 

O’Connor and Molinaro show flashes of panic as they talk about quitting their jobs. The choice, though, is an understandable one considering Talkdemonic’s big year thus far: The duo has been taken under Brock’s wing (hence the location of our interview) as the Modest Mouse frontman prepares to release the group’s latest album, Ruins, on his Glacial Pace label. Brock also provided sonic assistance through the recording and mixing processes. 

“That was the first time we’d had anyone else mix one of our songs,” says O’Connor, “which was—” 

“A milestone,” Molinaro interjects, smirking. 

“Especially for me, being a control freak,” O’Connor laughs.

Letting loose of the reins has done wonderful things for Talkdemonic’s music. Ruins swells with the drama and expanse of an IMAX film. Moments of chest-tingling beauty, like the burbling BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style electronics on “Summer Glass” or the spacious and restrained “Time Draws On,” rub gently against flat-out fists-aloft rocking (check out the dark power of “Midnight Pass”). The latter mood is driven by Molinaro, who, on several songs, sends her viola through a Marshall stack and effects pedals. 

Talkdemonic’s bold step forward with Ruins could send it careening into oblivion, but it looks like the duo is going to have fun on the way down. The band will be opening for the Flaming Lips on the East Coast soon, with more touring in the works for late this year and early 2012. For the time being, Molinaro says, she and O’Connor can avoid embarrassing run-ins with fans. 

“I don’t know what would be worse: being poor or playing an amazing show and going to work the next day and serving someone who was at your show dinner. ‘Hey, you’re Lisa from Talkdemonic! Can I get another martini?’”


SEE IT: Talkdemonic celebrates the release of Ruins on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Music Millennium. 6 pm. Free. All ages.

 
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