Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
Now that there's little choice but to treat chillwave as an actual genre, it's at risk of the same kind of restrictive codification that's strangled so many of its predecessors. The word has come to mean a specific style-- glowing electronic pop that calls to mind faded photographs. But what initially drew comparisons between such groups as Washed Out, Neon Indian, and Memory Tapes wasn't such an easily identifiable set of musical signifiers.
Cards on the table: Causers Of This wasn’t just my favorite album of 2010, it was the best pop album since Homework. Not that I wanted Chazwick Bundick to be a one-trick pony or nuthin’, but Underneath The Pine — and its well-gossiped ambiance of folkiness thwarted — represented a sprawling disappointment: the scruffy passions of Schwitterian collage had been overcoached into a barren art deco façade; spontaneity had been usurped by craftsmanship, a sublimation that substituted anxiety fidgets with frigid mannerisms. The garden shed auteur had squeezed himself into top and tails.
After two records that established him as one of the guiding lights (if not THE guiding light) of the chillwave wave, Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick released an EP that is less of a stopgap between releases than it is a further refining and expanding of his hazy, chopped-out sound that falls somewhere between Christopher Cross, A.R. Kane, and Prince, only cooked up on a computer in the corner of a crowded bedroom instead of in a brightly lit studio. This time out the sound is a little less smeared, a little more direct and punchy with the (still choppy) vocals more to the forefront.
“I wanted the live show to be more upbeat”, Chaz Bundick told Spin prior to the release of this five-song EP, and if that was the primary intention behind the electro-funk collection, the DJ succeeded admirably. There’s not a song on this set that won’t keep your ass on the dance floor. “All Alone” is the closest tribute we’ve had to Michael Jackson since Timberlake’s “LoveStoned”, while “Sweet” sounds like a Steely Dan/Parliament mashup.
“Look, over there on the ‘next big thing’ horizon! Someone’s trying to break free from the overprotective claws of hipsterville.” “Are they chillwave, glo-fi or psych-folk?” “What... How is that important? It’s Toro Y Moi and he’s got a new record out called Freaking Out.” Seriously, leave your preconceptions at the door when spinning Toro Y Moi’s latest EP. None of these tracks, not least ‘Saturday Love’, a straight-laced cover of the schmaltzy Eighties R&B duet between Cherelle and Alexander O’Neil, take themselves seriously.
In February, Toro Y Moi (the performance moniker of Chazwick Bundick) released Underneath the Pine, a full length record that embraced a cool funk aesthetic while throwing in a few goodly dashes of soul, psychedelia, Latin, and neo-disco into the musical cocktail. The result was a brilliant album that sounded almost like a blissed out Thievery Corporation, with a smoky, laid back ambiance, and waves of psychedelic sound washing over the constant funk grooves. Toro Y Moi’s latest EP, Freaking Out, provides a counterpart to his earlier 2011 effort.