JOYFULTALK - Plurality Trip

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:6 Release Date:2018-08-24
JOYFULTALK - Plurality Trip
JOYFULTALK - Plurality Trip

Plurality Trip is the sophomore album from avant-electronic oddballs Jay Crocker and Shawn Dicey the pair of Canadians comprising Joyfultalk, and it's a hard set to pin down. It's not really club music, and it's not quite IDM, although it shades in that direction in places. There are too many organic elements for it to feel utterly detached from humanity, but it also oozes darkness through most of the songs, like a batch of bad dreams, with all the intrigue and unease that entails.

The album is bookended by a pair of matching tunes, 'Future Energy Fields I' and 'Future Energy Fields II'. Both are big, spacious, and metallic, as deep and soothing as cosmic gongs. The contrast provided by the second song 'Monocult' could hardly be starker. It's much edgier, like pieces of hard rubber scraping against each other and vibrating themselves into melodies. There's a sense of paranoiac claustrophobia running through the track, of being chased or trapped by a cold, heartless machine. It's not quite as brutal as Aphex Twin's 'Come to Daddy', but it's in the neighborhood, and definitely not easy listening.

'Kill Scene' has the alien flatness of Laurie Anderson performing the soundtrack of a 1990s full-motion video game. And I mean that in the best way. It covers a few decades worth of nostalgia for me, bobbing and sinking through the oceans of my memories and touching on weird 80s radio pop, early computer fetishism, and post-rock psychedelia. 'Real Life VII' is barely a song. Instead, it's more like a group of audio vignettes that pass by like reflections in a funhouse mirror. Clanging and banging percussion stumbles around twisted calliope wreckage while grinding bass brooms sweep up the mess.

'Peace Fight' is like wandering through a foggy drizzle in an urban nightscape. It never quite resolves into anything concrete, instead of drifting in and out of focus with pattering beats that attempt to keep the hazy synths in line. 'You Death March' brings back some of the harshness of 'Monocult', but in the early going, it's more a drone than a sharp-edged piece of dread, with an electrified bassline buzzing below slow, grating pads. It does work itself up into a more interesting second half, with busy synths bouncing off the walls as the pads firm up into a more forceful series pushy partial melodies.

And the closing track, again, echoes the opening, with a sense of near-oblivion in its open void of sound. This is a short album, barely more than half an hour, but it has some good variety in what it's attempting to do. It doesn't always work perfectly, but credit should be given for making the effort to expand the frontier of electronic music. For ambient enthusiasts, the first and last tracks are the most worthwhile, for fans of more reckless avant stylings, 'You Death March' is probably the best pick. I also found 'Kill Scene' oddly charming with its strange retro vibe. But this isn't quite essential. It's good, just not as consistently gripping as you'd like a mostly experimental set of music to be.

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