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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Album Review: Toro y Moi - Causers Of This (Feb 23, 2010)

Toro Y Moi
Causers Of This (US - February 23, 2010)
Carpark Records (US)

As much as I complain about Pitchfork's huge influence on the eclectic music scene and its often unfair distribution of hype and hatred - it has definitely brought over the years a lot of artists that I don't think i'd have otherwise heard about to my attention. Almost exclusively through its own articles it appears to have brought about a small scale revolution in terms of psychedelic pop, which starting off arguably with MGMT and others in the last half-decade has reached its pinnacle with the imminent successes of bands like Small Black, Washed Out and Neon Indian, and that's just the electronic side of things. Toro y Moi is yet another name on the list, and his debut, one of two albums he is seeing released in 2010, Causers Of This, came out last month on Carpark Records.

Recorded on what sounds like Animal Collective's old four track, album opener Blessa begins by combining 70s surf harmonies with trippy Panda Bear-esque synth reoccurences, before developing into a slow ambient dance track, a vague order of transition which shows itself up as common throughout. With beatmatching synths and the occasional flicker of a heavily manipulated electric guitar string, the music resonates like the soundwaves of early electronic experimentation - drawing together several decades of influences, both organic and electronic, into a vaguely danceable, passive and trippy pop album. The late and great Michael Jackson's influence (as it does also curiously on Yeasayer's latest) shines through as strong as ever on some of the vocals, which in falsetto format captivate otherwise dreamy and at times aimless snippets of music into something more vaguely resembling pop music - eventually resulting in songs which remain in essence dreamy enough to associate themselves with the psych-pop/shoegaze/dreamwave movement, but definitely not direct or hard-hitting enough to claim Yeasayer's potential pop album of the year status.

Toro y Moi is at his best when his songs are harsher and more expressive - the tracks from the album with the most clearcut melodies tend to be the ones which last in your head. Talamak and Causers of This are two of the best examples of this. Talamak starts with simple jarring keyboard lines and a rhythmic squeak which is joined by falsetto vocals in just the second bar, and title track Causers Of This is even more to the point. With distinctively 80s electro-funk bassline and hurried singing, quickly backed up by a delayed set of keyboard inspired 'ooohs' and 'aaahs', the song develops into a tangled mesh of samples and unconventional percussive elements brought to an abrupt stop after the 3 minute mark - just before from the final stretch of Causers of This emerges a hidden track - and probably the most funky balaeric dance track Toro Y Moi has written yet.

Maybe none of the tracks for me quite lived up to My Touch's Bend Your Body (the main source of my enthusiasm for this artist in the months around Christmas) but Chaz Bundick, from his lowly Carolina music-scene origins, has brought us a prolific collection of tracks which knock the average up extremely close to that stunning single. Following in the footsteps of Joy Division, Aphex Twin, Michael Jackson (check his Human Nature cover here) and many others as genre defining musicians - Toro y Moi has accomplished a lot musically and is sure to re-emphasise his mark later this year, with his imminent second full length release.

Toro y Moi - Causers of This (MP3)
Toro y Moi - Talamak (MP3)

Causers of This on CD / Vinyl / MP3 via

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