In February, Toro Y Moi (the performance moniker of Chazwick Bundick) released Underneath the Pine, a full length record that embraced a cool funk aesthetic while throwing in a few goodly dashes of soul, psychedelia, Latin, and neo-disco into the musical cocktail. The result was a brilliant album that sounded almost like a blissed out Thievery Corporation, with a smoky, laid back ambiance, and waves of psychedelic sound washing over the constant funk grooves.
Toro Y Moi’s latest EP, Freaking Out, provides a counterpart to his earlier 2011 effort. Gone are the smooth bass guitar, the drum kit, the acoustic guitar strums – in other words, the actual instruments – replaced here by electronic drums, layers of polyrhythmic synth lines, and heavily effected vocals. It’s a return to the sound of his first full length, last year’s Causers of This, but with a distinctly synth-pop disco sound, straight from the 1980s. There’s still some funky-ass shit on here, like the keyboard wah-wah and slick bass synth of “I Can Get Love”, the longest and therefore most dance-friendly track, or the popping new jack snare drums of the sexy “Saturday Love”.
Indeed, Freaking Out is great if you just want to dance the album away, and that’s where this EP will have the most success, as a party-friendly booty shaker. A more or less identical tempo on all songs and very little variation in the synth timbres aid and abet the disco vibe, yet they also come off as a bit monochromatic. One can’t help but miss the warmth of real instruments on Underneath the Pine, and the vocals come off a bit more cold and distanced compared to Bundick’s previous efforts. But behind the digital sheen lie some especially well-crafted songs, like the opening “All Alone”, showing impeccable production and intricate interlocking keyboard licks.
Essential Tracks: ”All Alone”, “I Can Get Love”