For a two-piece act whose music is often built on processed beats, looped effects and fuzzed-out synth noise, the Portland duo of Kevin O'Connor and Lisa Molinaro consistently pulls off a couple of neat tricks. For one, they sound like a much bigger band, something live shows really highlight; they also come off far more organic-sounding than their building blocks would suggest. Over four full-lengths, this instrumental act demonstrates a keen knack for dynamic shifts and texture-building, and an equally well-honed ear for melody. O'Connor is the beats-master, and also plays a battalion of instruments that add melody or percussive thrum. Molinaro sticks to viola, cello and contrabass, but set against O'Connor's synthetic whorls and freestyle cymbal-and-skins explosions, they provide elegant layers of contrast. The duo's songs tend toward a couple of categories: lush, minor-key melodies that pass in graceful arcs and feature elegiac crescendos, like mash-ups of The Album Leaf and Four Tet; and more feral pieces that aim more at dissonant climaxes. The dozen songs on Ruins tilt toward the latter more than any previous Talkdemonic outing, as O'Connor relies more on processed guitar effects this time. The feedback-and-beats of "City Sleep" could be Sonic Youth on a Motorik bender; the Middle-Eastern guitar howls and drum thunder of "Midnight Pass" a J Mascis-meets-Grails joint. From that standpoint, Ruins feels like a change-up. For those who favor the more melodic side of Talkdemonic, it may not be as rewarding as they'd like, but it's a sign of a band still discovering new inspiration in its niche.
RIYL: Do Make Say Think, Grails, The Album Leaf