Search The Line of Best Fit
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"Freaking Out EP"

Toro Y Moi – Freaking Out EP
27 September 2011, 10:00 Written by Chris Tapley

We can probably drop the whole “vanguard of chillwave” shtick for Toro Y Moi now, right? Unlike his peers, Washed Out and Neon Indian, who’ve perhaps prematurely been touted as outgrowing the tag, Chaz Bundick seems to have truly transcended his micro genre beginnings.

His second album, Underneath The Pine, embraced a much more expressive style of full band instrumentation melded to that same understated wobbly aesthetic. Now this EP, the appropriately named Freaking Out, sees him emerge from the shadows even further and stand exposed under the flickering spotlight of 80′s funk pop.

What makes this pop persuasion so interesting though is that his genre defining debut, Causers of This, was arguably one of the least accessible of all the acts (and there were many) slapped with the chillwave tag. Sounds were manipulated and twisted sometimes beyond recognition of source, and the final product often sounded distinctly like someone having too much fun applying effects. To me, at least, it always seemed as though Bundick displayed a great level of talent more in spite of, rather than due to, this. It was a promising debut but one with many a noticeable fault. One of the main concerns being the musician/producer’s proclivity to mask his vocals in effects, when a clearer lead vocal could often have elevated these “interesting” tracks to truly great ones.

These kinks were all ironed out to somewhat on Underneath The Pine; as both vocals and instruments were given more clarity and the space they deserved. On Freaking Out such issues are practically without trace. This isn’t necessarily a logical continuation of that record though, here he works more within a framework of stuttering ice cool funk or what it might be tempting to refer to as “sex music”, the clearest touchstone of which being Prince. This reference is most evident on the title track, as its neon synth chords bleed into an uncharacteristically sassy vocal and insatiably lusty groove, the most notable thing about it though is the confidence with which it’s delivered.

In addition to that ‘Sweet’ is the kind of funk-disco implosion that George Clinton would be pleased with, turning a focus inward on groove and rhythm with an irresistibly funky guitar line, throbbing bass and fuzzy vocal harmonies all stitched together beautifully with a stellar production job. Cover ‘Saturday Love’ is a little bit more sickly sweet r’n’b, a mercurial take on the Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neil original, its pulsating keys and bouncing kick drums forming a bed for Bundick’s swooning and layered vocals.

Far more than just a stop gap, Freaking Out is another bold and impressive step forward for Toro Y Moi as he combines the laidback grooves of Underneath The Pine with the pounding rhythms of his debut to create something that reaches well beyond the realm of that pigeon-holing tag of chillwave. As well as this, there is still a fantastically attentive production touch which illuminates those deftly layered arrangements, and pairing this with a more song orientated approach really works wonders.

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