JOYFULTALK St. Matthew's United Church, October 22, Halifax NS

JOYFULTALKSt. Matthew's United Church, October 22, Halifax NS
Photo: Lindsay Duncan
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If you were to crop your line of sight at the shoulders and ignore the pile of keyboards onstage, JOYFULTALK's set at St. Matt's church kind of looked like a campfire circle.
 
At St. Matt's, the musicians sat in a circle on-stage, as if they were going to launch into "Row, row, row your boat." Jay Crocker, the project's mastermind and the sole architect of the band's recorded instrumentals on JOYFULTALK's full-length debut MUIXX, released earlier this year, sat among them.
 
What followed was seemingly about as far from a sing-along as you can get, though: a steady 40 minutes of crescendo and decrescendo, light and dark, otherworldly soundscapes that attacked and retreated and attacked again. At times the music sounded deeply mechanical, like the soundtrack to a dystopian digital future; at others, the sounds were more ethereal, almost aquatic in their ability to stay afloat in the room. Sometimes you heard the storm, and sometimes you heard the salvation.
 
Much of the time, it appeared as if the three musicians were lost in their own individual worlds of sound. Watching closely, though, you could pick up on the subtle communication cues between them, coordinating when to shift into something new — perhaps not that different from a campfire sing-along after all.