toro_y_moi-blessaSometimes the best part of going to see a live performance is being pleasantly surprised by the opening act. This was exactly what happened when I went to see Caribou in San Francisco earlier this year. The opening act, Toro Y Moi, did more than pleasantly surprise... they blew me away. I left the show with a copy of of their debut album that has been in heavy rotation ever since.

Toro Y Moi is the stage name used by Chaz Bundick, a college grad turned musician hailing from South Carolina. Bundick, who performed in indie rock bands throughout high school, began to transform his style after being introduced to the chillwave movement later in his school career. In January 2010 he released his first full-length album ‘Causers of This’ from Car Park Records. ‘Causers of This’ is an provocative journey into the new wave of alternative dance, featuring electronic beats and layers of vocals atop R’n’B samples and synthesized basslines. Each song on the album is crafted with just enough care to be inventive and new while holding you in a sense of familiarity.

The album presents a variety of stylings, from the deep and downtempo “Fax Shadow” and “You Hid” to the dancy and playful “Lissoms” and title track “Causers of This”. The opening track “Blessa” lures you into the album with its beautiful guitar samples and vocal harmonies mixed atop an all-too-catchy bass line. The track showcases Bundick’s ability to use his falsetto as an instrument and provide rhythm via perfectly trimmed samples and not just drum machines.

“Imprint After” is an impressive track that features an upbeat piano piece kept in check by breakbeat drums a wandering synthesized bass. It gets you into one of those head-bobbing, slow-hip-moving kind of dance moods, perfect for a BZ happy hour or recovery brunch.

“Talamak” is an oh-too-short gem that features so many fade-ins and fade-outs that you’ll think your ears are playing tricks on you. Just when you want more it seamlessly transitions into the chilled-out reverb of “You Hid”, a seductive yet war-torn track about failed love between friends. Its yet another track in which Bundick’s drawn out high notes meld together with a wandering keyboard to create a chilled-out showpiece.

As if the record alone wasn’t enough, the live show was icing on the chillwave cake. Bundick, joined on stage by two accompanists, played an hour of dance-fueled electronica that had the entire crowd moving. If ‘Causers of This’ is just the beginning of Bundick’s experimentation in this genre then the down-tempo dance world really has something to look forward to.

MixCloud Follow


Follow us on MixCloud! Download their app, which makes it super easy to listen to Below Zero each week!