Review : Toro Y Moi - June 2009
AvclubOf all the artists saddled with the chillwave genre tag, none have been more prolific or adventurous than Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick. On last year’s sophomore album, Underneath The Pine, he touched on yearning, Todd Rundgren-style soft-rock (“How I Know”) and vintage synth-disco (“New Beat”). Then he followed it up with the wild Freaking Out EP, a five-track set which found him chopping up original material with Hype Machine dance-remix aesthetics. The broad influences of his 2010 debut, Causers Of This, included J. Dilla and the Balearic pop championed by Sweden’s Service Records. Moments of Causers, however, did contain the signature slow-motion strobing of chillwave’s ur-text, Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around,” and following that thread leads back to the embryonic June 2009.
Before signing to Carpark, Bundick casually self-released a pair of unofficial full-lengths: the high-energy dance collection My Touch, and the tour CD-R June 2009, which sees its mainstream release as a vinyl singles box (and standard CD/digital editions). The collection is suited for the medium: Its warped, lo-fi pop sounds genuinely sun-melted, or at least subject to a giggly few minutes in Ariel Pink’s microwave. The original June 2009 (or at least the version floating around the Internet) was 16 tracks, including the first appearances of Causers tracks “Blessa” and “Causers of This”—which are left off the reissue—as well as an early take on “Talamak.” The latter track appears here as electronic pop gone blurry, its drum programming barely visible through the fidelity fog. ...full text
s one of the leading figures in the world of chillwave (and one of the biggest deniers of its existence), Chaz Bundick appears to be an artist genuinely enamoured with the ’70s soft-rock he touts, as opposed to merely nodding towards its en vogue status in the annals of hipstery. Through two albums as Toro Y Moi (debut Causers Of This from 2010, and last year’s Underneath The Pine), Bundick has got his soft-synths and distant vocal wispiness down to a fine art, simultaneously resisting and augmenting the scene from which he so wishes to detach himself.
Now comes a special treat for Toro fans, as he lets slip a snapshot of his psyche pre-Causers Of This, releasing a boxset of demos and sketches entitled June 2009. The rougher-hewn edges and extra level of hunger featured on many of the tracks give an early take on the Toro Y Moi sound, one that blossomed at a furious pace over proceeding EPs and albums. Along with uncharacteristic lo-fi production, Bundick’s guitar playing is one of the more noticeable features here, as something that makes only sporadic appearances on future releases. Tracks like ‘Take The L To Leave’ and ‘Dead Pontoon’ layer spidery riffs and fast-paced chords in the place of later synths and reverb, while the AOR hooks and harmonies are prominent in centre-stage.
‘Ektelon’ is a touching mid-pacer, its small-town protagonists treated with an affectionate lyric, while ‘Warm Frames’ and ‘New Loved Ones’ even see Bundick whip out the acoustic for a gentle strum along ,the latter featuring a thinly-disguised intro rewrite of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’....full text
PitchforkChaz Bundick spent 2011 enduring a barrage of subliminal criticism, but other than that, he had a pretty good year. It just wasn't one that gave him much incentive to get retrospective: Whenever his excellent sophomore LP Underneath the Pine and the subsequent Freaking Out EP were deemed "progressions," it felt like backhanded praise for the artistic distance he was creating from Causers of This, an album that's become weirdly underrated as its chillaxed aesthetic is seemingly blamed for everything from the death of indie rock to LeBron James' laissez-faire attitude in crunch time. So, at the very least, you have to admire the audacity of Bundick dipping into his personal stash for June 2009, a collection of singles written around the same time as Causers of This.
While they're not the proverbial naked baby pictures, June 2009 doesn't dispute the idea of Bundick as someone who ultimately profited from our collective deadbeat summer at the outset. You sense that Bundick had a clear idea of the kind of songs he wanted to write, but there's also the enormous strides he was yet to make as a producer, as an arranger, as a full-blown artist. It's not too hard to view the propulsive, clean melodic lines of "Dead Pontoon" (his strongest early single) as a preview for Underneath the Pine rid of that record's newfound Eurocentric influences. But early on, Bundick used his immediate surroundings as topical inspiration for mundane songs: vehicles, geographic proper names, "Girl Problems". Considering the self-consciousness that's crept into his artistic process, it's impossible to imagine him ever being in a mindset where he'd write something like "Ektelon", an incredibly literal recollection of a river tubing expedition. ...full text
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