Sometimes the best part of going to see a live performance is being pleasantly surprised by the opening act. This was exactly what happened when I went to see Caribou in San Francisco earlier this year. The opening act, Toro Y Moi, did more than pleasantly surprise... they blew me away. I left the show with a copy of of their debut album that has been in heavy rotation ever since.
Toro Y Moi is the stage name used by Chaz Bundick, a college grad turned musician hailing from South Carolina. Bundick, who performed in indie rock bands throughout high school, began to transform his style after being introduced to the chillwave movement later in his school career. In January 2010 he released his first full-length album â€˜Causers of Thisâ€™ from Car Park Records. â€˜Causers of Thisâ€™ is an provocative journey into the new wave of alternative dance, featuring electronic beats and layers of vocals atop Râ€™nâ€™B samples and synthesized basslines. Each song on the album is crafted with just enough care to be inventive and new while holding you in a sense of familiarity.
The album presents a variety of stylings, from the deep and downtempo â€œFax Shadowâ€ and â€œYou Hidâ€ to the dancy and playful â€œLissomsâ€ and title track â€œCausers of Thisâ€. The opening track â€œBlessaâ€ lures you into the album with its beautiful guitar samples and vocal harmonies mixed atop an all-too-catchy bass line. The track showcases Bundickâ€™s ability to use his falsetto as an instrument and provide rhythm via perfectly trimmed samples and not just drum machines.
â€œImprint Afterâ€ is an impressive track that features an upbeat piano piece kept in check by breakbeat drums a wandering synthesized bass. It gets you into one of those head-bobbing, slow-hip-moving kind of dance moods, perfect for a BZ happy hour or recovery brunch.
â€œTalamakâ€ is an oh-too-short gem that features so many fade-ins and fade-outs that youâ€™ll think your ears are playing tricks on you. Just when you want more it seamlessly transitions into the chilled-out reverb of â€œYou Hidâ€, a seductive yet war-torn track about failed love between friends. Its yet another track in which Bundickâ€™s drawn out high notes meld together with a wandering keyboard to create a chilled-out showpiece.
As if the record alone wasnâ€™t enough, the live show was icing on the chillwave cake. Bundick, joined on stage by two accompanists, played an hour of dance-fueled electronica that had the entire crowd moving. If â€˜Causers of Thisâ€™ is just the beginning of Bundickâ€™s experimentation in this genre then the down-tempo dance world really has something to look forward to.