Ruins is the fourth Talkdemonic studio album, and it effectively takes everything about the first three and blasts it into the stratosphere. It’s as though you’ve watched this band grow up throughout the arc of their discography, with Ruins being the sophisticated culmination of nearly a decade spent honing their craft. This newfound sense of maturity however, never translates to apathy. It’s more like a refined, renewed sense of space and crescendo. Achieving this sort of balance is no small feat for a largely self-recorded instrumental band. It would be difficult not to fill the vocalist void with melodic clutter, but Ruins never seems overstuffed. It ebbs and flows with the touch of an ace producer.
The song “City Sleep” pulses along for nearly five minutes of Lisa’s drones and string swells before Kevin’s trusty drum kit comes in like a stampede. It’s all patiently revealed, but never monotonous. It’s an encapsulating album centerpiece.
Lisa’s viola has always been achingly pretty, but never before has it sounded so much like a childhood lullaby and a violent assault, sometimes simultaneously. Armed with a new arsenal of processing pedals at her feet, she’s pushing herself and the melodic shape of these songs in wildly exciting new directions. The strings sound alternately improvised and painstakingly constructed.
Not only do Lisa’s textures make Ruins the most cohesive and exploratory Talkdemonic album yet, they provide Kevin with quite a canvas on which to splatter his synthesizers and drums. Kevin demonstrates an uncanny ability to expertly play every instrument without sounding like he knows how to expertly play every instrument. The song “Revival” showcases everything beautifully effective about Ruins. Kevin’s acoustic guitar strums itself around his rolling drum beat and bass. Then suddenly Lisa’s growling, panning, bending viola and (or is that a trombone? a blender? a motorcycle?) adds to the tension until the whole thing just explodes into light halfway through. It’s the kind of euphoric aural moment you wouldn’t mind dying to. These kinds of moments fill this record. From the eerie almost-human voices peeking in through the cracks in “Cascading” to the death-stomp of “Midnight Pass”, the tension/texture/release/euphoria ritual remains intact without ever sounding formulaic.
Talkdemonic can cradle you while wandering through the daring and beautiful Ruins, or they can just set you free.