Location plays a pivotal role in molding any person’s character. The place where you live eventually becomes a part of who you are. It is simply a process of adaptation and one that either builds up your unique characteristics or changes them. Joyfultalk, the project of instrument creator Jay Crocker and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Dicey is an example of a musical entity that is deeply influenced by its environment. The band’s origin is found when Crocker moved to a remote location in the beautiful Nova Scotia, where his focus shifted towards inventing his own instruments. The machinations that he produced eventually became the core for the first Joyfultalk album, MUUIXX. The ambient element, despite its ethereal leaning, always tilted towards an earthy sense. That, in turn, granted the record a cinematic quality, a serene documentation of Joyfultalk’s environment.
Crocker and Dicey now return with their sophomore album, released by Canada’s leading experimental music label Constellation. Similar to MUUIXX, Plurality Trip follows down familiar paths, taking advantage of Crocker’s machinations to create a plethora of sonic textures. The crystalline notes in “Future Energy Fields I” showcase a celestial representation, one that appears both ethereal and soothing. Through this subtle manifestation the duo slowly builds the ambient realm of Plurality Trip, switching through the serene atmospheric passages to more adventurous outbreaks.
The rhythmic element of the record plays an equally important part as the rich sonic palette. From the tribalesque manifestations, as is the case with “Peace Fight” that brings to mind some of Dominick Fernow’s investigations with Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, the duo experiments with many different flavors. The progression and structure still shift through the album, with techno motifs making an entry in the dark and esoteric “Monocult”. The repetitive patterns are intoxicating, arriving with a primal sense and evolving into more complex entities, allowing for a rhythmic dissonance to arise. Pseudo-industrial ideas are also explored in the techno paradigm of “Monocult”, offering a bleaker tone with their repetitive nature. In a more straightforward fashion, the band unleashes the martial-esque “You Death March”. The trackfeatures the imposing aura of industrial music coupled with Joyfultalk’s more hazy interpretations, which become especially apparent in the abrupt breaks of frantic percussion.
Despite the progression of the record featuring a more electronically driven characteristic, Joyfultalk retain this cosmic manifestation throughout Plurality Trip. There is a distinct krautrock element that sprouts through Crocker’s and Dicey’s sonic investigation, with the texture of the record pointing towards the realm of Kosmische Musik. The duo does not introduce this concept in a one-dimensional fashion, but rather stretch the style’s capabilities. The majestic quality of “Kill Scene” appears with a delicate, ethereal quality that belongs to the haziness of the late 1960s, but on the other hand the mysterious tone of “Real Live VII” dives into more ominous pathways. Combining the capabilities of electronic music with the ambient territory of krautrock, the result is a darker offering, turning Joyfultalk’s crystalline realm into a pitch-black, underwater trip.
The richness of ideas, and the unique sounds that Joyfultalk awaken with their music displays the extensive capabilities of Crocker and Dicey. Through Plurality Trip the duo manages to create an album that stretches between genres, creating connective tissue to build its own distinct identity. It is a work that relies on its atmospheric strength, exploring the mystical locations of Nova Scotia’s South Sore in a cinematic way.