Toro Y Moi: June 2009
Of 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.
It’s as useful as a time capsule as an album: The songs simultaneously document Bundick’s emerging, eclectic songwriting sensibilities and his almost-there engineering ambitions. The slimmed-down set focuses largely on his unexplored guitar side: On “Take The L To Leave” and “Girl Problems,” he offers Polaroid takes on Sly And The Family Stone, while the grittier “Dead Pontoon” could be a Cloud Nothings demo. “New Loved Ones” pairs his doubled vocals with an acoustic guitar and a touch of reverb. The more sensitive material fares better than the gloomy industrial anthem “Sad Sams,” which finds Bundick singing “No one will die” under the weight of Ian Curtis’ ghost; the equally bleak, bass-driven “Drive South” could stand to get to the beach already. But when he sings, “Call me soon/I don’t have anything to do” on “Best Around,” the slacker vibes are just a front. What June 2009 captures best is a craft-focused artist willing to try anything once.