Causers of This
, the new album by Toro Y Moi is a singularly cool work of solitary greatness and Chaz Bundick, the man behind it, is the new king of bedroom rock. Call it glo-fi, chillwave, dreamwave, or whatever wave you've got lying around, this is genre-busting music. The Toro Y Moi sound is rooted in funk, but has a surface that's all indie attitude. Bundick is the Sly Stone of the electronic generation, with something for conscious hip-hoppers (Kanye West recently gave him a shout-out) and psychedelic dance music fans alike. The synthesizer sounds are deeper and darker than the current trend towards shiny, bubbly plug-ins, recalling Junie Morrison's work with P-Funk and Wally Badarou's slippery touch on Grace Jones' 1981 classic, Nightclubbing
. Jazzy Fender Rhodes chords rub against digital glitches, while Bundick's ethereal vocals float over the top. It's a bit like Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips visited J Dilla in the hospital while he was recording Donuts
, another great work made in a vacuum.
"Often nights end in the morning for me," confesses Bundick in the shimmering, seductive "Minors." This is perfect music to bug out to as dawn approaches, but steer clear of headphones. Bundick is tricky with the faders. There's always something bubbling to the surface, sound whooshing in while another dies out. It's the musical equivalent of a shaky, hand-held camera. At first you feel disoriented, almost seasick. But your ears grow accustomed to his strange sonic signature. Sometimes it seems as if there are several songs going at once and it's a marvel that Bundick can keep all the balls in the air.
Lyrically, it's hard to tell if heartbreak or complacency is the greater influence. In "Talamak" he sings "When can we get together again? Never mind, I've lost you." Not exactly the old college try, or is he too numbed out to make the effort? Occasionally, Bundick's voice fails him. It's not the most expressive instrument and one can't help but wish he was as rigorous with pitch as he is editing his beats. But it's a small matter compared to the sheer volume of dazzling innovation he's able to express.
Somewhere, there's a kid in his bedroom with a fully loaded laptop, editing beats at four in the morning, studying Bundick's moves and waiting for his shot at the crown. -Dan Siegler
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MP3: Toro Y Moi - "Lissoms" (Causers Of This)
Toro Y Moi on Myspace