JOYFULTALK Fires Off the Sound of Brightness and Ambition on 'A Separation of Being'

Photo: Annie France Noel / Courtesy of Constellation Records

Canadian musician, composer, and instrument maker, JOYFULTALK produces his third LP, A Separation of Being, which overflows with cohesion and light.

A Separation of Being


13 March 2020

Under the moniker JOYFULTALK, Nova Scotian composer Jay Crocker released two albums, MUUIXX (2016) and Plurality Trip (2018), and while those two albums garnered deserving praise for their dense blend of electronic, techno, and Krautrock, A Separation of Being is a giant step forward, both in concept and execution.

Based on a giant visual score according to his conceptual scoring methodology known as the Planetary Scoring System, A Separation of Being could almost be compared to an enormous, brightly colored variation on a piano roll. The music has a larger-than-life feel to it, but it's framed largely by minimalism, so however baffling the concept of this scoring system may seem, there's an almost calming sense of simplicity to the finished product.

Broken down into three sections (clocking in at a total of about 32 minutes), the individual parts all come off as relatively similar but have enough differences in their respective structures to retain a uniqueness. On "Part I – I've Got That Trans-Dimensional Feeling Again", Crocker unspools a bright, engaging melody that infuses Eastern melodies and Reichian adventure, with another melodic layer added several minutes into the track, by way of a mesmerizing cello that lays to rest any suspicion that this is a cold, detached form of minimalism.

On "Part II – Pixilated Skin", the overall texture and mood shifts ever so slightly – there's more bottom end, resulting in a funkier, slightly darker edge. But it's still incredibly buoyant and – true to Crocker's artistic moniker – positively joyful. Eventually, the bass notes die down, and the listener is left to ponder gorgeous string notes that eventually bleed into the final track, the nearly 17-minute "Part III – Liquified Then Evaporated".

On this final track, which is roughly the combined run time of the two songs that preceded it, the melody remains relatively unchanged, but the slow, gradual buildup of instruments is true to the spirit of Steve Reich. Reich's inspiration is all over this incredible album -- in that, the listener is left with a song that ends very differently than how it begins, but the subtle shifts over time make it seem perfectly natural.

Utilizing a refreshingly organic approach and a unique sense of inspiration and bravado, Crocker's latest release under the JOYFULTALK name is full of passion, intensity, and unbridled joy.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.