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A Unique Sound Informed by the Past

January 20th, 2011

Toro Y Moi – Mercury Lounge – January 19, 2011

Toro Y Moi - Mercury Lounge - January 19, 2011
Last night the chalkboard outside of Mercury Lounge read like assorted answers to Trivial Pursuit questions: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toro Y Moi, Cloud Nothings, Indian Rebound. Surprisingly, the names account for bands, in fact, some of the most highly touted of the New Year. But while youth and its promise brought the sold-out crowd, the lineup showed a connection to musical styles, familiar but reimagined. And while nostalgia crept into most of the night’s music, most notably Toro Y Moi showcased a penchant for expertly blending new and old.

Chazwick Bundick, the songwriting personage and Toro Y Moi’s humble frontman, spoke infrequently throughout the show, but when he did, it was usually about hailing from South Carolina. His debut album, Causers of This, blends hazy production with R&B, New Wave and hip-hop to create intimacy beyond the bedroom project. Purportedly his upcoming album, Underneath the Pine, extends his sound to a fuller, band-based approach, clearly evidenced by his touring band, consisting of a drummer, bassist and guitarist to accompany him on keys.

With the extra instrumentation, Bundick freely manipulated knobs, layering vocals on top of keyboard melodies. Arrangements of Causers of This standouts “Blessa” and “Talamak” felt thicker and dug deeper into grooves with a fleshed-out rhythm section. New songs, noted by way of introduction, still maintained Bundick’s vocal approach, highlighting with a light falsetto, but at times, evoking funk predecessors like George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. The stylistic shift didn’t seem drastic, but rather a more organic go at the dance floor. —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com