Chaz Bundick, or better known as Toro y Moi, came out with a new full-length release last Tuesday called June 2009. Bundick has been making music under the Toro y Moi guise since the same year, releasing a slew of EPs and two full-length records. Upon the release of his first LP Causers of This, critics and bloggers alike roped Chaz’s gazey, laid-back electro sound into the new buzz-word genre “chillwave”, alongside similar artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out. But Bundick has made it clear to us that his music and talent goes a lot deeper than the “chillwave” sound: his second full-length Underneath the Pine is a collection of smart, crisp pop tunes that feature Chaz on a menagerie of live instruments, and his most recent EP Freaking Out is an open love-letter to late-70s disco nostalgia.
With June 2009, Toro shows us even more versatility in his sound. The album is not comprised of new material, but is instead a compilation of older recordings that Bundick made around the time indicated by the title. While still retaining the sound of other Toro y Moi releases, the songs cover a much wider stylistic landscape. The first half of the record is a collection of lo-fi garage-pop tracks that sound as if they’re reaching your ears through the walls of a basement or a broken cassette deck. Chaz’s falsetto vocals meander half-ironically over crunchy guitar hooks, fuzzed-out bass lines, and rumbling drums. There’s no trace of the mesmerizing production quality, precise drum programming, and swirling soundscapes of the past Toro releases in these tracks; the music has been stripped naked and spit out with an honest simplicity.
Half way through the album, the mood changes drastically with the soft, emotive “New Loved Ones”— a rare moment for Chaz on just acoustic guitar and vocals that float upwards with dizzying reverberation. After this brief intermission, the album dives back into Toro’s roots with alternate versions of tracks from Causers of This (including a disorienting, ambient intro to a “Freak Love” remix), some hazy synth-pop cuts that sound like warped 80’s disco records, and a few nods to the West coast beat scene (a la Flying Lotus, Baths, etc).
June 2009 essentially offers a survey of the early years of Chaz Bundick’s recording career while giving us a rare insight into the composer/producer/performer’s musical mind. The release may not form a logically constructed whole as a record, but it can be appreciated as a a sort of road map for Toro y Moi’s sound, and a puzzle of clues to what we can expect from Chaz in the future. If there is one general observation that you can draw out of this disparately-presented record, it is that the music is unmistakably the art of one man with his ears in very different worlds of sound.
Check out “109”, one of the album’s more catchy garage tunes below: