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Toro Y Moi
Underneath the Pine - Carpark
FILTER Grade: 84%

By Zachary Sniderman on April 1, 2011

 

Toro Y Moi

Chillwave’s boy wonder, Chaz Bundick, has put together another mercurial album of floating riffs, this time with a live approach. Underneath the Pine more confidently pulls from R&B/funk influences than its predecessor (Causers of This) to match Bundick’s gently melancholic indie pop. Recorded live, the album delivers more verve and kick accordingly while keeping Bundick’s penchant for musical complexity.

“New Beat” sounds like a Jackson 5 B-side with a slippery key line and a bouncing bass groove. Bundick is not the world’s most brilliant vocalist, but he’s not trying to corral the music, instead letting the textures overlap and intermingle. To be sure, he can mix and bend his instruments with the best of them, but his real strength comes from his understanding of pace and rhythm. On “Got Blinded,” Bundick deftly smoothes and spikes his layers of orchestration to give it a sense of energy and propulsion.

Underneath the Pine is anchored by Bundick’s reverbed, strangely ethereal voice—it’s just as malleable and expressive as the rest of the electronics in his impressive repertoire. That human touch allows the album its flights of experimentation without feeling overly light or emotionally hollow and by that, Underneath the Pine is a musically inventive and masterfully balanced next step.

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