"Calgary outlier Jay Crocker partners with local musicians over flipped drum samples to create a sometimes abrasive yet utterly compelling set of smudged avant-jazz burners, lit up by Nicola Miller’s wayward sax runs and his own skewed fretwork. Pitched somewhere between Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction, Makaya McCraven’s cut-ups and Sunset Ensemble’s AI experiments, the energy of its insistent flights of fancy is undeniable." - MOJO ★★★★
"Juxtaposes interstellar synth and choir samples with clanging gamelan bells, fractured beats, untamed saxophone wails and gnarly guitar lines… like Bill Laswell on acid." - Record Collector
“Complex, melancholic, and chaotic.” – The Quietus
“In recasting Crocker’s compositional technique over a broader range of source material, the record uncovers a dialogue with Black musical traditions that have long animated Joyfultalk and undoubtedly influenced its contemporaries on the East Coast, from improvisation to indie rock.” - Musicworks
“Crocker et son ensemble de musiciens issus de la scène de Calgary offrent de foisonnants amalgames entre jazz et rock expérimental nourri aux synthétiseurs, alternant les harmonies spirituelles rehaussées par des chœurs et d’assourdissantes déflagrations de rythmes et de guitars.” – Le Devoir
"Crocker has reached back to the deep heritage of assemblage in jazz that stretches from Miles-In A Silent Way- Teo Marcero innovation to Makaya Mcraven’s turntablist inspired new groove tapestries. Starting with his deft rhythmic samples at the centre Crocker spins a web of live and archival improv session edits to create the Familiar Science soundscape. The result promises to be expansive, explosive and ultimately energising." - Backseat Mafia
"Joyfultalk’s 2022 LP, Familiar Science, somehow manages to sound equally alien and wild while departing completely from the sound of the last LP. Partnering with some of Calgary’s finest improvising musicians, Crocker shreds and reconstitutes their playing into something totally new, with roots equally in jazz and electronic music. It’s also the first Joyfultalk record in ages to feature his fantastic guitar playing." - Enigma Online
"Familiar Science fits in line with the recent rising trend of pushing sonic boundaries further, while still utilizing familiar tropes in jazz and funk to establish heady grooves and thunderous trances. There’s plenty of havoc on record, whether it be in the form of crushed cacophony or hectic instrumental solos, but it’s nicely balanced out, or perhaps bolstered by periods of calmer introspection." - Warm Visions
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 Nicola Miller’s buoyant 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.
Deluxe 180gram vinyl edition pressed at Optimal (DE) comes in 350gsm jacket + 300gsm artworked inner both printed LE-UV on uncoated Arktika artboard + DL card.
180gLP Art Print Edition includes two 9.5"x12" art prints of the original cover art paintings by Jay Crocker (mail-order exclusive/edition of 100).
CD comes in custom mini-gatefold artboard jacket with black inner dust sleeve.
Jay Crocker • Guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, electronics and vocals
Eric Hamelin • Drums
Nicola Miller • Alto saxophone, flute
Dan Meichel • Tenor saxophone
Chris Dadge • Drums
Kyle Cunjak • Upright bass
Composed and produced by Jay Crocker.
Mixed by Jay Crocker and Rick B.
Mastering by Harris Newman at Grey Market.
Cover art by Jay Crocker.