By Colin Gallant
Former Calgarian Jay Crocker has long been sonically puzzling. Given the range of ground he’s covered with his solo work under his own name, the “avant-blues” of Ghostkeeper and other projects, it was hard to guess what to expect from the JOYFULTALK moniker. The instrumental affair was recorded using a myriad of custom homebuilt instruments and, accordingly, some of the sounds heard here are difficult to describe. Opener “Butterfly 12 Komokyo” tracks circular, clattery percussion over a riff not unlike the ones used on Animal Collective’s Feels, while uncomfortable bass tones and shrill distortion bubble up to cut through the sombre mood. The unexpected juxtaposition of mood recurs throughout MUUIXX when dub ambience is disrupted by neo-classical on songs like “Buschbabies” and “Gym Class.” Elsewhere, “Pommel Horse” offers a baroque march and “If I Had Your Address in Chicago” splits the difference kraut and a shredded alarm sound.
What impresses beyond the alien sounds and unlikely pairings on MUUIXX is its unwavering hold on the listener. You’ll be rapt even when the instrumental tracks cross the six-minute mark. The entire album is a rewardingly refreshing listen that merges ambient music with a mad science laboratory; the results are both challenging and engaging.JOYFULTALK, MUUIXX