The arc of Jay Crocker’s story is by no means a revelation. Once known as the mind behind Calgary bands Ghostkeeper and No More Shapes, Crocker recently pulled up roots and decamped to Crousetown, a tiny hamlet on Nova Scotia’s ragged south shore. Artists have long left cities for quieter, more secluded locations—such an archetypal tale reminds of Jennifer Castle‘s excellent “Sailing Away,” which, to me, exemplifies this quest for clarity, space, and minimalism. “I don’t need a home / don’t need a lover,” sings Castle over a similarly archetypal bed of acoustic guitar, strings and gentle percussion. “I’ll be out on my own, come hell or high water.”
What is revelatory about MUUIXX, Crocker’s latest release under his JOYFULTALK moniker, is that it subverts previously-held expectations about what an album created within the aforementioned narrative might sound like. This record will likely be labelled as electronic music, but unlike much of the music in that genre, it does not come across as shiny or impenetrable. Instead, Crocker crafts a mood that is more akin to folk music such as Castle’s—homespun, certainly, but with unlikely means: a lineup of fourteen hand-made instruments in the artist’s home studio. The result belies simple categorization and is entirely engaging; Crocker’s compositions are progressive and playful, toying with familiar structure and keen to surprise with new sounds.
MUUIXX is a celebration of do-it-yourself energy and a beautifully original creation. I imagine this music would work well for writing or working; Jay Crocker’s fantastical factory of sound is creative and efficient. Listening in feels like holding a piece of sea glass on the beach, a vivid dispatch from rural Nova Scotia shaped by its environment, a treasure to slip in your pocket and keep close by.