March 29, 2012
Review: Toro Y Moi – ‘June 2009’
Toro Y Moi – June 2009
As 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; 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’.
There’s an air of split-personality about June 2009, as slowly the electronics start to creep in and the Toro Y Moi sound begins to take shape. ‘Drive South’ is the first appearance of the keyboard-driven run that takes in ‘Sad Sams’’ echoing vocals and cavernous drums, as well as an early version of ‘Talamak’ from Causers Of This. Here, the track is more a slower, stuttering mesh of hyper-compressed beats than the slicked-up version that made it onto the debut; unsurprisingly the closest sonic cousin to later triumphs such as ‘Blessa’ and ‘You Hid’.
For one as prolific as Bundick (eight official releases and countless remixes in the past couple of years alone), the releasing of early demos appears a little nonsensical, even reductive. As pleasant as June 2009 is, it’s very definitely a regressive step on the Toro Y Moi trajectory, and really only serves as an interesting artefact in a career already traversing loftier climbs.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON