Shares track & video “Take It To The Grave”
Familiar Science out 6 May 2022 on 180gLP/CD/DL
Composer/producer Jay Crocker turns to exuberant noise-tinged polychrome electronic avant-jazz on his third JOYFULTALK album for Constellation.
Crocker revisits his early musical years as a jazz/improv guitarist in Calgary’s out-music scene of the 2000s, laying down new licks on Familiar Science alongside bass, synth, midi sequencing and stacked wordless vocals, while splicing and dicing additional guest recordings.
Features a virtual combo with contributions from percussionists Eric Hamelin (Ghostkeeper, Chad Vangaalen) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Alvvays), horns and flutes from Nicola Miller (Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli) and archival tape of the late Calgary saxophonist-iconoclast Dan Meichel.
JOYFULTALK returns with its third album for Constellation; another vibrantly divergent stylistic take on the analog materiality and sensibility of electronic composer-producer Jay Crocker, whose previous two records forged trance-inducing polyrhythmic intricacy, each from a distinct angle and sound palette, each enlisting a single instrumental collaborator. Familiar Science rallies contributions from a larger cast of musicians into a looser, cosmic recombinant combo—still shot through with JOYFULTALK’s singular mixing desk kinetics, but this time deep-diving into gnarled and twisted, spliced and diced out-jazz. Crocker draws inspiration from 1980s M-Base music and Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic funk period, while his own prior history as an improv guitarist also resurfaces for the first time in many years—an element in this polyvalent artist’s chemistry set that hasn’t appeared prominently in his own music for over a decade.
Familiar Science finds Crocker folding time (as lockdown will do), immersed in his present-day kaleidoscope of solitary art and music practices in rural Nova Scotia, while channeling his former life as a bustling jazz collaborator in Calgary, Alberta. Building outwards from roiling resampled acoustic drums, Crocker extracted additional sonic and rhythmic textures, then formed the head of each song using dusted-off archival recordings and his own bass, keys and midi sequencing. Albertan percussionists Eric Hamelin (Ghostkeeper, Chad Vangaalen) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Alvvays) provided improvised drum tracks to be chopped and harvested; Nova Scotia-based Nicola Miller (Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli) laid down resplendent excursions on saxophone and flute; Crocker’s own dexterous guitar appears on several cuts. Familiar Science also poignantly features samples from live recordings by the late Calgary saxophonist-iconoclast Dan Meichel, catalysing some of the album’s heaviest contortions.
Crocker weaves all these raw materials into exuberant compositions that blur the line between sizzling corporeal combo and sampledelic futurist jamz, variously conjuring (leftfield) Flying Lotus, (later) Tortoise, BADBADNOTGOOD and Squarepusher’s Music Is Rotted One Note. The rubbery hyper-compression of boom-bap opener “Body Stone” initiates the séance, and the album offers a panoply of skittering grooves and soaring melodic pathways thereafter, through quags of heady jazz alternately streaked with dayglo delirium and other more vaporous states of revelry. Crocker’s own wordless stacked vocals are the giddy secret sauce on several cuts, and his lead guitar work (in kinship with the lean progressions of Mary Halvorson or Jeff Parker) features on “Take It To The Grave”, “Stop Freaking Out!” and the album’s title track. More honeyed passages on songs like “Blissed For A Minute” and “Ballad In 9” center around Miller’s bouyant alto sax and flute.
Familiar Science is a rousing feast of noise-tinged polychrome electronic avant-jazz: richly harmolodic compositions teeming with intersecting textures and turbulences; exploratory, exhilarated and indeed joyful. Thanks for listening.
JOYFULTALK – Familiar Science
01 Body Stone
02 Take It To The Grave (audio/video)
03 Particle Riot
04 Familiar Science
05 Ballad In 9
06 Blissed For A Minute
08 Stop Freaking Out!
JOYFULTALK is the brainchild of composer, producer, arranger, instrument builder, multi-instrumentalist and multimedia artist Jay Crocker. Since his relocation from Calgary to a rural Nova Scotia homestead a decade ago, Crocker has been broadening the scope and pace of his visual, sculptural and video art practices in tandem with his musical exploration.
JOYFULTALK creates instrumental compositions that straddle analog and electronic sound explorations in uniquely inventive ways. Guided by graphic scores, handmade kinetic sculpture, and junked/recuperated Crocker delicately weaves between human interaction and machine clockworks.
From the widescreen synth-driven works of early albums MUUIXX and Plurality Trip to the electronics and string quartet polyrhythmic Minimalist systems music of A Separation Of Being, to the exuberant harmolodic avant-jazz collages of Familiar Science. JOYFULTALK’s album discography offers up a distinctive and kaleidoscopic world, always combining an ear for melody and noise, always seeking the ghost in the machine.
As a multimedia and visual artist working under his own name, Jay Crocker exhibited the award-winning BIBELOT (a custom-built sound installation of sixteen ceiling-mounted mechanical ‘music boxes’) across the Maritime provinces (Eastern Canada), culminating in an exhibition at the prestigious Phi Centre in Montreal in 2019.
His monumental 5’x10’ graphic score for A Separation Of Being, the latest composition of his Planetary Music System, was acquired by the Nova Scotia Art Bank that same year. Recently, he unveiled an interactive laser installation called Last Life On Earth, as part of Tatafest Music & Art Festival in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.
Crocker is currently at work on two new large-scale score pieces; one for 16-voice choir and one for 30-piece wind ensemble, alongside a large-scale installation sculpture of 1000 mirrors and robotics, video art and a quotidian bric-a-brac tinkering with sonic and kinetic machines.
Check out jaycrocker.org for updates with ongoing work.