Chillwave has been a major trend in the indie world in recent years. It’s proved to be divisive however – loved by some and maligned by others. Regardless, it’s found genuine popularity, particularly in artists Neon Indian, Washed Out and Toro Y Moi. Which direction it will head is difficult to tell, with the possibility of it gaining crossover success plausible. Due to the chillwave tag being an umbrella term for a range of styles with somewhat similar aesthetics, it seems just as likely it will evolve into something else again. Toro Y Moi aka Chazwick Bundick played down the tag in an interview he did late last year, saying “I’ve kinda gotten past that sound”, adding it was more a “coincidence” that a group of people were making similar sounding music.
Bundick’s debut album Causers of This was released just over a year ago to generally positive reviews, cementing his status as one of chillwave’s luminaries. The hip hop influences were apparent throughout and it also shared similarities to beat makers like Flying Lotus. Underneath the Pine represents a change for Bundick’s sound. The album feels more indebted to 80s funk and synth than it does to hip hop. All of the tracks except for ‘Divina’ have vocals, a different approach to what we heard on Causers of This. Bundick develops his vocals in a more traditional song structure and the album sounds better for it. It opens with the relatively ambient and fairly nondescript ‘Intro Chi Chi’. The second track ‘New Beat’ is an absolute jam and owes much to 80s funk. Bundick’s mellow vocals gently croon over the beat in a lovely dreamy manner. ‘Got Blind’ is similarly catchy and could be a potential single. ‘Still Sound’ is another stand out, with Bundick’s vocals again working perfectly with the beat. The album ends with the six minute long ‘Elise’. It has a more gradual build up than the other tracks and makes for a nice closer.
With Underneath the Pine, Bundick has crafted a strong sophomore album. Whilst his style has changed to a degree, it still incorporates elements that are recognisably his sound. It has the possibility to reach a more widespread audience and propel him into indie super stardom. Whilst it isn’t instantly brilliant, it is an album that grows in stature after every listen. One can only guess the path that the multi-instrumentalist Bundick will take in the future, but he looks destined to be relatively prolific and always evolving.
From Louis Rankin.