Words by Marc Saunders
After just a year since the release of Toro Y Moi‘s debut record ‘Causers of This’, South Carolina’s solo technical troubadour has returned. Chaz Bundick’s sophomore release ‘Underneath The Pine’ is a further helping of delicate ambience; but underneath the calm surface lurks funk bass lines, syncopated rhythms, fluttering piano scales and a voracious desire to dance.
Bundick’s latest record features 11 gentle tracks; all of which are addictively enticing and easy to absorb, each creating an intimately personal atmosphere. Older fans will recognise a noticeably less ‘in-your-face’ electronic feel than his debut release. Within the space of only a year, Bundick has instead opted for a slower paced, chilled out natural ambience within his music. The beats have been watered-down and the electric kits have been replaced with acoustic ones. But don’t get me wrong, this choice has resulted in a beautifully innovative album, and from hearing the songs, fans will surely agree that in no way can Bundick’s sudden change of style be condemned.
‘Underneath The Pine’ serves as hard proof that the masterful aptitude of Chaz Bundick’s experimental creativity is truly undeniable. At a glance, the record appears to be disguised as a compilation of easy-listening tracks, but it is soon awakened by shifting time signatures, irregular note-phrasing, and the ghostly haunt of Bundick’s Thom Yorke-like falsetto. One such eye-opener is that of ‘New Beat’, a delightful hybrid of Marcus Miller-esque basslines and slippery 80s grooves, topped off with an unmistakable retro classiness.
His musicality shows there is far more to the experimental genre than regurgitating pre-recorded instruments. The echoing and sampling in ‘Go with You’ is jittery and unexpected, but is executed perfectly. By no means whatsoever does Bundick stick to a system of linearity. There is certainly an element of Steve Reich’s minimalistic phrasing, smothered by layer upon layer of textured instrumentation. Just listen to album-closer ‘Elise’. It’s almost as if Charlie Brown stumbled into a happening nightclub. One thing’s for certain; armed with a battalion of synthesisers and samplers, Bundick is simply unstoppable.
The experimental enthusiast’s resilience to create original, inimitable songs rings out in ‘Underneath The Pine’. Under the name of Toro Y Moi, Bundick has truly become a pioneer in this expanding world of atmospheric, exhilarating and absolutely irresistible music.