Forget chillwave, Toro Y Moi takes us on a unique journey on Underneath the Pine

We all remember Toro Y Moi, don’t we? No need to reintroduce the moniker of South Carolinian Chazwick Bundick? Who last year was one of the handful of artists branded with the now-infamous “chillwave” classification? Who received critical praise for his debut album Causers of This? Ok, great.

Bundick’s second album, Underneath the Pine, released just a few weeks after the one-year anniversary of his first, is… wow. Gosh, I don’t even know where to start with this one. It’s good! Let’s go ahead and let that kitten out of the bag. It’s very good. But the album is such a unique and interesting journey it can only be explained, I think, by giving a rundown of the evolution of the thing.

With “New Beat,” the album begins with a little bit of disco through the funkadelic star shades of Bootsy Collins. But the album immediately slows down to the kind of lazy summer psych pop of the 60s (The Mamas and The Papas came to mind) and then into jovial space pop like a smoother version of “Telstar” by the Tornadoes. Then, on “Light Black,” the tone turns suddenly dark before mellowing out in the jam “Still Sound.” Bundick does a classic space epic finish between “Good Hold” and “Elise.”

The whole thing reminds me of an electronic version of Ramases’ Space Hymns or of a simpler and funkier Flaming Lips album.

But as many artists as Bundick culls to memory, Underneath the Pine is very much the work of one man and his creative mind. The creation he has made makes for an interesting study into the broad genre of experimental music. While a lot of albums within the genre these days are vast and often hard to wrap your head around, Bundick makes music that is experimental but concise, without drifting too far into space.

Whether or not it was his intention, Bundick is breaking free from the chillwave shackles that once threatened to pigeon-hole his sound. Underneath the Pine is at times more jovial and at times just as ethereal, but his sound has evolved into something unique and difficult to classify. The new album might not have as many standout tracks as Causers of This, but for Toro Y Moi, it’s a much more important work.

Bundick is going on a wild, aimless journey through the bizarrely beautiful space within his mind and, fortunately, we all get to come along for the ride.

Underneath the Pine is out now. Buy it on Carpark.

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