I was a tad cool about Toro Y Moi's 2010 album debut 'Causers Of This'. Chazwick Bundick nonetheless deserves a listen with 'Underneath The Pine'. His second offering for Carpark Records is a far more convincing affair. The lo-rise-trouser-cuffs-in-the-mud-summer-of-love ambience is largely intact but Mr Bundick seems to have grown in confidence in the tune department. The undifferentiated sonic sprawl of his last recording has been trimmed down and refined and the self-restraint proves to be no bad thing.
The wispy vocals and watery harmonies remain but have greater presence and character. Take or leave the "Chillwave" moniker and on the other side of Dingly Dell there is (following a brief instrumental introduction) a collection of ten rather splendid new compositions. Mr Bundick's affection for 70's disco remains alive and kicking on tracks like 'New Beat'; the deliciously sunny 'Still Sound' and the lusty almost Barry White-ish sprawl of final track 'Elise'. However, the stuttering beats of 'Go With You'; the voiceless tropical island travelogue vistas of the almost divine 'Divina' and the restless darker insinuations of 'Light Black' lead us down some intriguingly diverse new avenues with not a dead end or a clanger in sight.
For my money the truly delightful 'Before I'm Done' delivers the album's finest moment within which which Mr Bundick summarily convinces me that he has a far better voice than he had deigned to share with us in his earlier work. It is a very pretty song, performed with good grace and not a little love.
'Underneath The Pine' carries our hero's vision forward to clearer horizons than of yore. I am prepared to follow to see where he goes next.
Me and one of my music obsessed friend's were talking the other day about Toro Y Moi and he described Underneath the Pine as Earth Wind and Fire chilling with Air for the day, then deciding to listen to some steely dan, Hall and Oates and a vintage 60's and 70's pop compilation, a smidgen of Lsd later and their jamming together in an attempt to fuse everything they've just heard. I laughed and said it just sounds like a freakin' great album to me, but he does have a point about Toro/Chaz being heavily influenced by music from a certain era, there's plenty of prominent basslines and warm vocal harmonies that you'd most certainly find in lite funk or quiet storm, delicately played keyboards, smooth band interplay and near flawless sounding production is where the Steely Dan comparisons come in i guess.
But in truth though, i still think my earlier retort is the more relevant description of this record. Principally because the music on this thing plays like an endless cycle of hits that any of the aforementioned groups would be proud to have in their back catalogues. Besides the high quality of the music, the sheer number of influences that are used to pepper his lite soul and smooth pop style make this an album only he could of made (with the possible exception of Ariel Pinks Haunted Graffitti if they were a little more chill perhaps ;)
I could go into the gorgeousness and gorgeousity of the individual tracks to quote a well known anti hero, but it's the album as a whole that's the real highlight. From the trippy synths of intro to the quiet catharsis of Elise, you'll be hard pressed not to find something enjoyable in any of these songs, the only drawback to this album if you can call this a drawback is that it sounds a lot better on a sunny afternoon, cruising in a soft top, preferably on a carefree drive in some place scenic. If that sounds like something you do a fair bit, order this now and make sure whoever you're driving with buys their own copy and doesn't steal yours when you're filling up at the petrol station.
Throughout a virtual interview with the force behind TORO Y MOI: Chaz Bundick,one can appreciate that, in this era of facebook,twitter...he still mantains the underground spirit and only that, makes him great!Apart styles and new genres in which he's involucrated,TORO Y MOI has brought to the music scene of today,a hint of freshness and happiness with his blissful melodies and brightly lyrics. In Perú,I had the opportunity to play on for the first time:Causers Of This and Underneath The Pine,to all my radio listeners,the same that received them with a big hand.When an artist gives to the scene of music,albums so alike between them,they only connect you to boredom. It's a better thing when an artist changes and experiments with another sounds while recording albums.Expectation gets wider and one asks oneself: what could be next?.Buy both albums and the bliss will be with you forever.Higly recommended.
HELENE RAMOS GALAGARZA peruvian journalist,cyber dj,editor radio producer & host, cyber writer [...] sundays 16:00 pm
Have been playing this CD for weeks now, great album from otherwise unknown (to me ) artist. Like the keyboards and sounds like nothing else I've heard. Seems to be catergorised under 'Chillwave' but ignore that moniker and enjoy. Haven't listened to a better LP all year.