I haven’t met too many Talkdemonic fans personally, but the band’s supporters must be out there somewhere, because their new album sold out of its first pressing in a week. Upon listening to Eyes at Half Mast for the first time, it’s easy to see why folks are pining for their sound – they succeed at the same type of satisfying instrumental experimentation as masters like Tortoise, Drums and Tuba, Boards of Canada, and DeVotchKa.
Talkdemonic embodies several things that excite music lovers of all types. For one, they are succinct. Though the album is a fulfilling 40 minutes, tracks average under 3 minutes – a perfect bite for the frazzled attention spans of the new millennium. That said, they pack an awful lot of enjoyment into each instrumental composition, filling the minutes with exotic instrumentation, sweeping rhythms, and dramatic melodies. Heavy, fuzzed-out bass greets synthesized strings, and room-filling drums open up channels for the mystical, mind-expanding tones of messed-with melodica, elegant viola, and foreboding banjo. They’ve also got mood swings down pat, with gentle tunes like “Tides In Their Grave” providing wistful counterpoint to the electronic mayhem of such creations as “Shattered Into Dyes.”
To top it all off, the production values are outstanding. Drums achieve a wide range of sounds, cymbals sizzle, bass is alternately body-shaking and punchy, and the band’s trove of synth sounds are right where they need to be in the mix. It’s a sound worth blasting at high volume, even if their music isn’t traditionally what you’d hear bumping from a 3rd-story window. After their first release, Beat Romantic, became an underground favorite, Talkdemonic’s next move was anticipated with great interest by fans and press alike. With Eyes at Half Mast, the Portland, OR band has delivered just what we were waiting for.