Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Last year, the debut from Toro y Moi (real name: Chaz Bundick) tipped him as one of the leading purveyors of "chillwave" — woozy, low-fi, sample-based electronic music for a post-Animal Collective generation. But for his follow-up, Bundick decided to use only organic, live instrumentation. The results are groovier and prettier, touching on baroque pop ("Before I'm Done"), slinky disco ("New Beat") and psych rock ("Good Hold," "How I Know").
Underneath the Pine is anchored by Bundick’s reverbed, strangely ethereal voice—it’s just as malleable and expressive as the rest of the electronics in his impressive repertoire. That human touch allows the album its flights of experimentation without feeling overly light or emotionally hollow and by that, Underneath the Pine is a musically inventive and masterfully balanced next step. .
When Chaz Bundick sang, "I found a job I do it fine/ Not what I want but still I try," on "Blessa", it became Causers of This' most-quoted lyric for obvious reasons. Not only can all of us relate to that sentiment at some point in our lives, but it also drew a direct line between the escapism of home-made electro-pop and the lives of most of the people creating it. Talk about Hipstamatic prints, Ariel Pink, and surfing all you want, but y'know, it's also the economy, stupid.
From the opening blissed out chords of Toro Y Moi’s gorgeous debut Causers of This, the first release of one man band Chazwick Bundick, it was clear his huge, spacewave anthems were amongst the most welcoming and euphoric works of the chillwave genre to be heard last year. In a saturated blog-reliant scene, Bundick’s work under the Toro Y Moi moniker really stood out because of his commercial appeal and expert songwriting. Tracks like “Thanks Vision” and single “Low Shoulder” rode colossal ‘80s grooves, whilst the beautiful “Blessa” produced the achingly honest lyric “I found a job, I do it fine / Not what I want, but still I try”.
Apart from the deification of Ariel Pink, the only thing music fans agreed on re: chillwave was Toro y Moi. Chaz Bundick’s one-man pop project was granted reprieve from the backlash that swallowed the likes of Real Estate and left Memory Tapes a distant, uh, memory. It’s a rare case of the blogosphere letting the cream rise: Toro y Moi’s Causers of This was an album more concerned with atmosphere and production quirks than sounding like the beach in 1987, and all signs pointed towards Bundick being more than just a flash across the hypertext.
Toro y Moi's debut record, Causers of This, fit firmly in the newly formed chillwave tradition. Chaz Bundick (the sole member of the group) created a sound that was hazy, lazy, and submerged with lots of peaceful melody and an easygoing late-night warmth and charm. On the follow-up, Bundick could have done more of the same and it would have been just fine, thanks to his way with a melody and the invention he put into the lo-fi arrangements.
It’s easy not to expect much from acts like Toro Y Moi. In fact, it’s appropriate. The much-maligned chillwave subgenre has as part of its essence a complacency with not moving forward. Indeed, the nature of its fixation on the past kind of ensures that about it. To dismiss it as nothing more ….
“Could Chaz Bundick be any more ‘hipster’ if he tried?” Hipster… eh? That awful tool of social labelling: a backhanded compliment seen by some as suggesting a self-isolating outcast but by others as the crowning fashion of their own anti-cool. Whatever Chaz Bundick is, with a name that is probably a phonetic interpretation of the Inuit for ‘Polar Bears Eat Rainbows’*, and borne into infamy on the back of the Chillwave movement, a crowd that drew as much derision as acclaim, Toro Y Moi, his stage name, fulfils that stereotype to the letter. But after last year’s debut, Causers Of This, Chaz has suggested that the Sophomore, Underneath The Pine, will be a more “traditional” record, featuring “live Instruments” for the first time.
Traditionally, hyped and scene-lumped artists escape their pigeonholes by exploding into a ‘you don’t know me’ strop of obtuse dissonance or ludicrous, grandiose folly. [a]Toro Y Moi[/a] (Chaz Bundick to his ma), however, has reacted to his unwanted status as head honcho of chillwave with a welcoming record that ought to pull him from the self-referential arse-cloud of the blogosphere into the warmth of every home.He’s reinvented himself by abandoning the cut-and-paste techniques that made his debut, [b]‘Causers Of This’[/b], a web-melter. That album’s digital awkwardness made it ‘difficult’ enough to put his name on the lips of snivelling fashionistas, but offered little to entice anyone not logged into its little world.
Probably because its very vocabulary came so alarmingly close to self-parody – chillwave, glo-fi, hypnogogic pop, etc. – similar-sounding material by the likes of Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, Washed Out and numerous others was quickly defined in disposable, temporal terms. The Sound Of The Summer Of 2009 (even though all three of those artists’ most notable records to date were released in September and October of that year).
South Carolina chillwave hipster Toro y Moi, a.k.a. Chaz Bundick, is an unabashed evocator of early-‘80s soul-pop, that particular slice of music that eschews clinical polish in favor of lo-fi grease n’ fuzz and laconic beats highly suggestive of softcore porn. Bundick’s music, especially the sun-drenched funk of his sophomore effort, Underneath the Pine, is a pitch-perfect conjuration of the post-disco era, and therein lies the double-edged sword of its charm, straddling—and often wandering astray of—the line between being intuitively retro and predictably derivative.
At only 25, Chaz Bundick, otherwise known as Toro Y Moi, has managed to entrance PBR-swilling hipsters with his eclectic electronic pop, not to mention the überkitschy limited-edition Underneath the Pine tote bag and MP3 download card you can buy on Etsy.com. His second full-length is a chillaxed stew of a pinch of disco, a soupçon of Stereolab, and a moody guy playing keyboards in his basement. The South Carolina native possesses a keen sense of his influences, with "Still Sound" evoking his disco-funk forefathers.
In the early parts of 2010, Toro Y Moi’s Chazwick Bundick highlighted the chillwave movement with his stellar debut, Causers of This. After a strong summer progression in 2009, the South Carolina-born graphic designer was able to amass the many proponents of chillwave onto a stunning set of music. Subtle and subdued, songs like “You Hid” were gentle electronic flashes of life that were perfect in any kind of setting: driving home from work, unwinding after the long day’s work or even, preparing for the daily grind.
Warm, wistful and nostalgic without ever coming on too maudlin. Reef Younis 2011 After the success of Toro Y Moi’s debut album, Causers of This, Chaz Bundick quickly became an unassuming chief purveyor of yet another literary bastard genre. Billed by some as "recession-era music: low-budget and danceable", chillwave is a label that’s as inherently ambiguous in its construct as it is dismissive in its description.