Thursday, March 31, 2011

Underneath the Pine - Toro y Moi

Underneath the Pine

Toro y Moi
Carpark Records.

SCQ Rating: 80%

Of my eager anticipation to see Caribou unleash his psychedelic carousel last spring in Ottawa, a genuine sliver was partitioned for catching Toro y Moi open the gig. Yes, I’d recently accused his debut, Causers Of This, of being a songwriting cop-out but I was eager to hear how its glitchy fragments might sound when performed by Chaz Bundick and his full band. Granted, my troupe and I opted to remain in our U-shaped booth and watch Toro Y Moi from afar, but that indifference was largely caused by a set that felt uncomfortable in its own skin. Causers Of This had only been in stores for a few weeks but already Bundick seemed desperate to distance himself from its trendiness.

The performance opening for Caribou made peace with any lingering uncertainties my stance on Toro y Moi had been wrestling with, but it – and the tour as a whole – held greater implications for Chaz Bundick. Underneath the Pine, besides being far more informed by 70s funk and new age sentiments, finds Bundick exploring Caribou’s psychedelic wormhole of kaleidoscopic delights. Like a svelte incarnation of Snaith’s 2010 hit ‘Odessa’, ‘Still Sound’ bears a groove both danceable and head-swimmingly ungrounded. The same goes for ‘New Beat’’s freshly renovated take on pre-disco soul and ‘Light Black’’s shadowy vortex – an understated freak-out if ever there was one. And those are merely the examples that don’t cite Dan Snaith’s 60s love as a primary influence; in other places, like ‘Got Blinded’ or ‘Before I’m Done’, Bundick channels the Zombies’ melancholic swoon as if Caribou hadn’t been revitalizing it for the past five years.

Any foul play behind Underneath the Pine’s borrowings is thankfully overshadowed by Toro y Moi’s many upgrades on display. Gone is the cowardly playbook that had Bundick stitching disembodied hooks to fleeting euphoria. From sketches to full-blown songwriting in the span of a year, Toro y Moi hasn’t just uncovered a unique take on electronic music through somewhat organic means; he’s found himself as well.

Toro Y Moi - Still Sound by musicmule

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