Joyfultalk: Muuixx
Drip Audio / Backward Music

Jesse Zubot's Vancouver-based Drip Audio upholds its reputation for adventurous music-making with its latest, a nine-track set from Canadian composer Jay Crocker (Ghostkeeper, No More Shapes) under the Joyfultalk name (the release also will be available on vinyl from Halifax's Backward Music imprint). Originally based in Calgary and now comfortably ensconced in Crousetown, Nova Scotia, Crocker used fourteen custom-built instruments at his home studio, the Prism Ship, to bring Muuixx to life. A number of albums in Drip Audio's catalogue evidence an avant-jazz spirit, but any ties to jazz are pretty much severed on Muuixx. Stylistically, the thirty-six-minute album inhabits a weird and playful world unto itself, and the fact that no clarification is provided as to what exactly those home-built instruments are merely adds to the enigmatic nature of the release.

The opener “Butterfly 12 Komokyo” makes good on the Hawaiian connection hinted at by the title when a string instrument cuts a jaunty path across what sounds like a crude drum machine pattern, though it would be inaccurate to delimit Joyfultalk by affixing a single genre or style to it. Electronic sounds of indeterminate origin also surface to overlay the base material with a droning, shoegaze-like film, a move that in turn transforms the material into something almost African-like.

With strings, snares, and other eruptive noises flailing in different directions, “Gym Class” plays as if it's in the throes of a controlled seizure. Melodies and rhythms inhabit the same physical space, yet collide with one another as if they've been pulled in from separate tracks. There's also “Crousetooth,” thirty-nine seconds of electronic experimentalism, and “If I Had Your Address in Chicago,” like some RZA homage gone wrong, strafes a burbling funk pulse and submerged voice sample (“If I'd had your address in Chicago, I would have written you before I came here”) with synthetic swizzle for six tripped-out minutes.

Each one of the pieces is a strange concoction: at one moment a rhythm pulse suggests a kind of warped techno; at another, something vaguely resembling mutant krautrock emerges. Elsewhere, the burble of a synthesizer introduces an acid techno vibe, while a voice sample nudges the music in the direction of Musique concrete. Sing-song melodies chime above swirling beds of noise, and it's not uncommon for a piece to start in one place and end up somewhere entirely different five minutes later. It's backroom experimentalism unleashed, and Muuixx ends up being one of the least predictable albums to have crossed this desk in many a moon.

July-August 2015