The video: Is this what really happens after you pop a couple of Ambien tablets and drift off into the arms of Morpheus? Lisa Molinaro, the viola-playing half of instrumental duo Talkdemonic, spends most of this clip drifting through an off-the-wall assortment of out-of-body experiences after her spirit decides to take a vacation from its unconscious confines. Director Alicia J. Rose keeps it creepy throughout, but this is no gloomy goth scenario — the video is full of airy, brightly lit landscapes that make the weirdness seem just that much closer to waking life, and that much weirder for it. By the time Talkdemonic percussionist Kevin O’Connor turns up, sporting ritualistic face paint and shepherding a bunch of shadowy mud-dwellers who look like they might splinter off to start their own freak-folk band at any moment, Rose seems like she’s daring us to deem the drama self-parodic, but she never eases off the unnerving intensity.
The director: Alicia J. Rose has worked both sides of the fence; she’s recorded several albums under her accordion-playing alias, Miss Murgatroid, including a couple with violinist Petra Haden, so she knows something about ladies who like to saw away at strings. As a director, Rose has summoned up spooky scenarios for the likes of Loch Lomond, Mastodon and Viva Voce, but her gleefully goofy clips for Menomena and Golden Bloom offer empirical evidence of her sense of humor, which surely also underlies more ostensibly “serious” clips like this one.
The song: “City Sleep” is the first single from Ruins, Talkdemonic’s fourth album and first for Isaac “Modest Mouse” Brock’s Glacial Pace label. But if you’re looking for any sort of sonic link between Brock’s band and this Portland pair, you’re on the wrong track. With its blend of skittering, clattering percussion, throbbing bass, and, eventually, fervent flurries of vibrant viola, “City Sleep” is like soundtrack music that’s decided it’s sick of settling subtly into the background and wants to grab a little bit of the spotlight for itself.
Talkdemonic has been around for almost a decade, touring with everyone from the National to (naturally) Modest Mouse. They’re the kind of outfit that could easily bear a different genre tag depending on the time of day; their blend of post-rock, folktronica, avant-pop, and whatever else you want to call it might not have eased them into the mainstream, but maybe linking up with Brock will help to pump up their profile.