Toro Y Moi June 2009
Toro Y Moi’s first commercial release, the “Blessa” single, introduced the world to Chaz Bundick’s brand of introspective, atmospheric pop music, and while the A-side wound up laying the framework for his debut, Causers Of This, backing track, “109,” hinted at a side of his music having more in common with the oddball pop of Ariel Pink than any of Causers’ reference points. As it turns out, around the same time he was experimenting with music software and sampling, Bundick was recording a slew of short and sweet lo-fi tracks chronicling his version of college grad indecision. Now, after two albums, an EP, loads of tour dates, and a move to Berkeley, CA, these songs still mean a lot to him, and they’re collected on the retrospective June 2009.
Originally part of the tour-only CD-R of the same name, June 2009 feels like a peek inside the mind of an artist not knowing where to turn once stripped of the structure of school life. He struggles with good friends moving away (“Sad Sams”), the pressing feeling that a move to New York is a necessary career move (“Take The L To Leave”), and the fear that simple pleasures have become a thing of the past (“Ektelon”). But more than nostalgic yearnings for the recent past, the songs are like journal entries—as commemorative as they are therapeutic. Elsewhere, tracks like “Girl Problems” and “Dead Pontoon” show how his first album might have sounded if “109” had been that first single’s A-side, with reverb-soaked, angular guitar riffs serving as focal points of the power-pop periphery. Also included is an early version of Causers standout “Talamak,” one of his first cuts to make the blog rounds and an interesting insight into the process of reformatting his work to fit with the album. Closer “New Loved Ones” sees Bundick in a rare, intimate environment, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and in the throes of love lost. With songs varied in style but bound together by their personal subject matter, June 2009 is a portrait of a young man unknowingly on the cusp of a fruitful career.
Chaz Bear (formerly Bundick) was a musician from birth. Growing up, it was normal to hear music across genres, from Michael Jackson to Elvis Costello to The Specials, in the Bundick household. These influences were quite unique for a biracial kid growing up in South Carolina, contributing to the complexity of Chaz’s self-understanding and expression through his own music.
Chaz began playing and recording original compositions in his preteen years, forming multiple indie bands starting in middle school and continuing until his personal project, Toro y Moi, was signed by Carpark Records in 2009. Before getting signed, he was already an incredibly prolific artist, having released over 10 Toro y Moi albums on his own (and undoubtedly retaining a vast compendium of unreleased songs). His personal work drew upon a vaster array of influences than did his full band. Early Toro work called upon Chaz’s childhood exposure to 80’s R&B, pop and electronic music, while also evolving with his discoveries of acts like My Bloody Valentine and J Dilla and his burgeoning interest in French house. Just before his graduation from the University of South Carolina, where he earned a degree in graphic design, Chaz caught the attention of music bloggers and record labels with his dreamy, bedroom recordings, eventually compiled into his first album under Carpark Records, Causers of This.
Causers was one of a few albums to kick off the trend of home-recorded, hazy albums relying heavily on samples and production, evoking the feeling of a muggy, Southern summer. While the album did well and broke ground for Chaz’s career as a musician, it resulted in the widespread assumption that Chaz was a one trick pony, able only to write music similar to that of Causers. He immediately made it clear that he is an extremely dynamic musician with the 2011 release of Underneath the Pine, an album recorded between tours that was composed entirely of live instrumentation, moving away from the sample-based aesthetic of Causers. From then on, Chaz released an album every other year (sometimes more frequently), each one a display of his adeptness with different genres. While each album was distinct and sometimes a complete departure from the previous, Chaz’s unique production techniques and melodic sensibilities tie them all together. Whether listening to the psych rock-based What For? or 2017’s R&B-influenced Boo Boo, it is always clear that it’s a Toro y Moi album.
The most recent Toro y Moi album, Outer Peace, was written and recorded in the Bay Area after Chaz’s return from a one year stint in Portland. It is somewhat of a homecoming celebration, filled with features by friends and saturated with a playfulness that had not previously been embraced in past Toro albums. Outer Peace stands in contrast to the more sparse and contemplative Boo Boo, an album recorded while in Portland in relative isolation. With Outer Peace, Chaz showcases his ability to remain on the cutting edge of music’s evolution while not taking himself too seriously. There are contemporary hip hop references mixed in with funk, Eurodance and ambient elements, all interwoven expertly and retaining that quintessential Toro y Moi aesthetic.
Only five days after releasing Outer Peace, Chaz posted a photo of a cassette titled “SOUL TRASH V1” on his Instagram with Dropbox link to what appeared to be a mixtape. Later, the post and link were taken down and for the first time, Soul Trash will receive a proper release on October 29th along with a short film by Laneya Billingsley.
1. Best Around
2. Take The L To Leave
3. Girl Problems
4. Dead Pontoon
6. Drive South
7. Sad Sams
8. Talamak (First Version)
9. Warm Frames
10. New Loved Ones