Friday, March 12, 2010

Toro Y Moi - Causers of This

Upon a first listen, it is arguably difficult to describe what transpires throughout Toro Y Moi’s debut LP Causers of This. Chaz Bundick – under the playfully convoluted moniker Toro Y Moi – offers a set of dream-pop songs similar to those of fellow South Carolinian Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, but there are striking differences. At times the album even sounds a lot like Neon Indian’s superbly chillwave Psychic Chasms, but that’s not entirely true either. The answer, then, does not lie in comparisons. Causers of This is unique, and that is what makes it great, at least to a large extent.

Bundick explores many sounds, experiments with various genres, and makes interesting and disparate stylistic choices. What results is an involved and sometimes dense album that sounds more like a collection of remixes than anything else. That is, Bundick seems to operate like a DJ or producer in Causers of This – in the same vein as artists like Pictureplane, Gold Panda, or Universal Studios Florida .

Such an approach produces mostly positive effects, but the album is not perfect. Rather, his complex and sometimes tedious arrangements cause it to vacillate from excellent to misguided. For example, it is often hard to distinguish one track from the next, an effect that makes the album feel longer than it actually is and ultimately creates distance. His ability to make each song flow so coherently, however, is also remarkable and mostly engaging. Furthermore, Bundick’s production-based tendencies allow him to masterfully exploit and manipulate dance music from the 80s and 90s – as evident in “Lissoms” and “Causers of This” - but in doing so he ignores one of his best instruments – his voice. He is by no means the most skilled vocalist, but tracks like “Blessa,” “Minors,” and “Low Shoulders” suggest that Bundick can use his voice in subtly engrossing and clever ways when he wants to.

As I suggested earlier, Causers of This is, for the most part, a great album. It is difficult to describe and even harder to compare; those characteristics alone set it apart from many albums being produced by his many contemporaries. Still, Bundick’s overly involved production leanings – though completely appropriate and effective at times – keep the album from reaching its full potential. Something tells me, though, that it won’t be long until he finds his niche.



Blogger paige said...

You struck a chord with me when you said that the tracks on Causers of This are often hard to distinguish from one another which makes the album seem much longer than it is. I was listening to this album the other morning and sincerely couldn't tell one song apart from another (mostly). However, I really love the 80s/90s feel of this album, which is why I've been playing it non stop for awhile. I agree that his voice in Blessa is just pretty, and the sound of Causers of This just makes me want to move. I like your honest, yet constructive criticism. Nice work.

March 17, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger THINGS AS THEY ARE said...

thanks! i'm glad you like. and i'm glad to hear that my take had some relevance for someone else.

March 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

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