Lightyears ahead of everyone else
Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi never fails to make non-intuitive grooves that manage to keep heads moving. His arsenal of sounds seems endless, and he ventures now into space with his latest release Outer Peace. Led by singles “Freelance” and “Ordinary Pleasure,” this album is multi-dimensional, and with that, it is also insecure.
A drawback of Bundick’s crate-digging approach of finding fragments of other genres and combining them in whichever ways he chooses is that he creates sounds that don’t generate the same level of comfort that more genre-typical music does. For several of the songs on Outer Peace, Bundick stands left or right of a fully danceable tune or a singable lullaby. He’ll have the repetition necessary for luring warm bodies to the dance floor in one song, but his most infectious grooves are in snippets around the album. Bundick has likely come to terms with the risks of innovating, and his forward thinking will rarely escape appreciation. If anyone has already connected with alien lifeforms, it’s Chaz Bundick.
Admittedly, Bundick is stronger at producing and composing than lyric-writing. Choice lyrical moments pop up here and there, but Toro y Moi fans don’t listen to him for prize-winning poetry, but instead for his aforementioned grooves and the variety of textures he creates with instruments and his voice(s). His voice often floats up the frantic synthesizers, and his electronic soul adds life to otherwise simple phrases. He dips his toes in trap, especially noticed in “Freelance,” and he consistently scores the ideal soundtrack for a spaceship crew trying to pass time.
“Fading” opens up with a thin pecking that sends dance-like shivers down the spine and gently pushes the lazy folk out of their chairs, setting the tone almost immediately. “Ordinary Pleasure” startles with congas right off the bat and ultimately has the catchiest hook to be found here; the easy shoo-in for highlight track. Also, the ooh-ing in the middle of the song sounds quite similar to “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, but perhaps that’s just a coincidence. “Laws of the Universe” seems to wiz by, turning heads with its atypical groove as it goes. Opening mysteriously, “Miss Me” (one of two songs with a featured artist) is a colorful breeze, a gentle tossing of fallen leaves that etches a faint smile into a winter-chilled face, largely thanks to ABRA’s voice.
“New House” is short and (it’s likely you guessed it) sweet, naturally leading into the kalimba-driven “Baby Drive it Down,” whose groove would welcome some variation. “Freelance” is a solid tune once it settles in, but is likely to discourage listeners who dislike more traditional EDM music, at least in its first few notes. “Who Am I” has one of the standout lines, something plenty of antisocial folks can relate to: “Who cares about the party / I came to see the band play.” The trippiest song here but not by too much. “Monte Carlo” is enchanting, and it wouldn’t be as sparkly if it weren’t for featured singer WET. “50-50 Instupendo” has some of the best instrumentals and closes out the album quite nicely, slowing down from the twitchiness at Outer Peace’s start.
Toro y Moi already has a near-prolific output, and Outer Peace is a fine addition to his discography. Give it a listen on a starry night.