Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Toro y Moi - Underneath the Pine (2011)

This time around Chazwick Bundick takes distance from the Chillwave movement he was sort of being part of, he admitted that he didn’t want to be labelled like a Chillwave kind of musician; on this idea he took different elements and dived into a new sound, and for an artist like Chazwick this elements were traditional, guitars, pianos, bass, and real drumming, all of them refreshing the sound and making the Toro y Moi experience a different one that anyone could expect.

If compared to Causers of This (other than the vocals), this are two different sides of making music; this time around since the intro “Intro Chi Chi”, Bundick separates the sound starting with a very distorted guitar and a tambourine, also a piano set to the back in echo and voices on top of it, for some seconds this sound maintains until it brakes down to tropical real drumming and funky bass lines; this sets the beginning of a new way of approaching sound, transforming the Lo-Fi Chillwave into a Funk experience.

The single is another example of this new sound, on purpose named “New Beat”, because the feeling that drums and bass can add to Lo-Fi and a guy that knows this kind of production too well make a completely new experience for Bundick, there’s some disco beats, playful production tweaks added to real instruments and its a much more clean production this time, still in tracks like “Good Hold” the sound fades away for a while and all you have left is the echo on the distance that suddenly rushes back to the front, distance and closeness forced by sound tweaking of the production, but everything sounds more planned and less accidental (though the accidents of sound production in ‘Causers of This’ are completely intentional and an important part of the charm), and then “Divina” brings piano to the table, and then “Before I’m Done” intentionally adds acoustic guitar to the formula. What makes it Toro y Moi is the playing with the sides of the headphones, where the sound will come from, “Before I’m Done” also ends up with ambient electronic after he well played the acoustic and the funky drums and bass.

But probably the best songs in this LP are not the ones that make us remember what use to be Toro y Moi, but the ones that shows us that new sound, songs like “New Beat”, “Still Sound”, and a kind of psychedelic experimental rock song like “Light Back” that reminded me a little to the sort of experimentation that MGMT were making with their last LP if it were had been a little bit more Lo-Fi. It was a surprise to listen this side of Toro y Moi, not because in the past it wasn’t there because songs like “Imprint After” had the funk hidden behind the chill, is just that this time you don’t have a musician with different digital sounds mixing them in a basement with a tape recorder, this time is “real music making” with real instruments; maybe some will miss the old romance of a solo artist with the tape recorder and the computer, but I liked this new twist. Now to the question is it better? Is it worst? That’s something that can’t be said, is different and probably will appeal to a different audience or to a more open kind of listener but you can’t compare winter and summer, each season has its charm.


1. Intro Chi Chi
2. New Beat
3. Go With You
4. Divina
5. Before I'm Done
6. Got Blinded
7. How I Know
8. Light Black
9. Still Sound
10. Good Hold
11. Elise

Rate: 7.2/10

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