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Search The Line of Best Fit

Toro Y Moi ushers in a new stage of his sound

13 April 2015, 13:07 | Written by John Bell

Veering from usual practice, I’ll start with an admission: I have been waiting to see Toro Y Moi for about four years, back when I first had the glossy production of debut album Causers of This in my headphones and something to really dance to with the relentlessly funky Underneath The Pine. A mixture of wrong-place, wrong-time hiccups prevented me from seeing Chaz at any of his infrequent visits across the pond thereafter, regardless of how much I enjoyed 2013’s Anything In Return or even the recent side-project escapades of Les Sins. You can imagine my delight, then, walking briskly through Bethnal Green in the early-evening sunlight with the Oval Space in my sights, where tonight Toro Y Moi headlines in celebration of his fourth full-length album What For?

Oval Space as a venue certainly matches Chaz Bundick’s musician-cum-graphic designer aesthetic, with its solid acoustics and its minimalist white-cube, blank-canvas design. At full capacity tonight it is packed early, and even for support The Drink - an intriguing but not unappreciated choice - people begin to pile up en masse. Set before a psychedelic backdrop that Leif Podhajsky would be proud of, Chaz et al. enter sharpish to the billowing race-car sample of "What You Want", which is also used to open the new record. With its rhythmic guitar emphasis and chromatic drops, it’s a fantastic introduction to Bundick’s new stage and bleeds perfectly into "Empty Nesters" which dropped earlier in the year. It’s a shame there’s none of the climactic brass as per the recording, but given how adept Chaz’ band take on tracks which are traditionally less band-driven, such as "Rose Quartz" and "Grown Up Calls", we can let them off.

After the bass-heavy, sultry rendition of "High Living", which thankfully has as much sonic prowess in capturing the song’s hedonistic message live as it does on record, comes a much-welcomed "Campo". The placement of this track here, which was originally an exclusive US tour 7” back in 2013, is well considered as it continues the sass of the previous two tracks with its jazzy percussion and bass but is simpler in texture in contrast to the rich thickness of new tracks "Half Dome" and "Lilly". The sound is vibrant and powerful, but more attention should have been paid to the levels in designing the live set-up; intricacies such as the delicate guitars in "Lilly", which are key in the construction of Bundick’s nuanced sound, are unfortunately lost. In fact, interestingly the subtle novelties in the live interpretations of older songs such as for the encore "New Beat" and "Say That" are more intriguing. But importantly the whole set keeps pace and sounds huge from start to end, particularly in the anthemic, dreamy swathes of vocal melodies in "Yeah Right" which oscillate slowly in delight.


What You Want
Empty Nesters
Never Matter
High Living
Half Dome
Rose Quartz
Grown Up Calls
Low Shoulder
Still Sound
Run Baby Run
Spell it Out
So Many Details
Yeah Right

New Beat
Say That

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