Toro y Moi is a guy named Chaz Bundick from South Carolina who makes perfect headphone disco. I booked him for a show at Cakeshop back in August and liked him well enough, but I was not expecting to love his new album Causers of This as much as I do. He’s an engaging enough performer for a guy who remains in place while singing into a mic and working a collection of electronics, and by all means you should go to his live shows and help him get paid and watch him do his thing, but make sure you get the record. You need his record very badly.
A cursory Google search revealed to me that Toro y Moi are lately being compared over and over again to Animal Collective, but I think this has less to do with a common sound than it does with Animal Collective being the lazy standard against which to compare anything indie that involves a synthesizer. Toro y Moi has more in common with Mutations-era Beck, Cornelius and Arthur Russell. Like Russell, one gets the sense that Toro is playing to himself in a private space rather than for an audience in a great big room (whereas Animal Collective is very much a big room production). There’s a common palette of soft, lightly distorted synthesizer melodies layered and cut against an array of samples and vocal harmony. Likewise, Bundick can produce a solid disco sample and make it work in perfect harmony with the kind of dreamy, introspective lyricism that doesn’t typically keep company with disco. Causers of This is headphone music done right, a visually suggestive album that’s best appreciated when you’re warm and comfortable and prepared to lose yourself for an unbothered half hour or so. I want to take it the beach and stretch out on a towel with it.
Causers of This also fits nicely in a playlist alongside contemporaries like Salem, Pictureplane, Neon Indian, and Mexico’s criminally underhyped Sr. Amable. I keep hearing people categorizing Toro y Moi and the rest as “chill-wave”, but they are very likely the kind of fools who would gaze at the ocean on a bright summer’s day and mumble something about how it is like Animal Collective because they are simple and don’t know any better. There’s nothing chilly about this album. Causers of This is sunshine.