On the cover of Underneath the Pine, the sharply detailed mustache on Chazwick Bundick’s face hangs just above his Filipino lips, which enclose and bite upon a material that appears to be a hybrid of the insides of a fallopian tube and a grapefruit — a very twisted and captivating way to present the 24-year-old’s latest album.
Toro Y Moi
Underneath the Pine
Bundick — better known by the stage name Toro Y Moi — brought himself to chillwave fame with his first album, Causers of This in 2010, but Underneath the Pine goes down a different avenue of wave. It is a more intellectualized, ambient collection of live instrumentation that adds up to 39 minutes of experimental exploration in the deep blue sea of sound, each layer its own salty entity.
Carrying the sophomore album into public awareness is Toro y Moi’s newfound business partner: Urban Outfitters. The artist has used the outlet of burgundy tights and slick Urbanears headphones for purposes of exposure, letting the mainstreamed hipster company rep his “New Beat” music video.
“New Beat” could easily compel listeners to drop a true 60 dollars on Urbanears and go to a zone of half-ass disco, space luxury and vintage-whisper vocals, where grooving is the one only plausible action. The music video does the sexy bull-musician some serious justice, complementing the groove with images that add a certain delicacy: a fiery sunset flickering through branches, automobiles on the move, snow, smoke and Bundick’s appetizing face — complete with his clear, horn-rimmed glasses and hoodie. Many thanks for the fallopian tube-grapefruit not tainting this satisfying video and track.
It turns out Bundick is not simply a handsome and funky South Carolinan whipping out songs for other handsomes and funkies to smoke marijuana and twirl their fingers in the air to, a little too chilled-out for vertical dancing. He’s a multi-faceted, multi-instrument dude.
The pre-released single, “Still Sound,” is one of the few tracks that steps away from cloudiness. Complete with synthesized funk beats and a staggering, staccato voice, “Still Sound” conjures the image of the chillest of chill bars: gin and tonics resting on white modernized countertops, neon lights and right angles compose the room’s atmosphere as fresh boys and girls glissade between each other.
If that scene isn’t enough, the music video for “Still Sound” will make listeners want to get on his level of cool and befriend this beautiful musician. He kisses a dog, spins a dandelion between his fingers, munches a sandwich, dances like the king charmer of the ’80s and smiles bright while messing around with his friend’s mustache in the park.
Master of hip music videos, Toro Y Moi elevates itself in personality but leaves the music itself somewhat on the backburner.
The penultimate track, “Good Hold,” is the underdog on Underneath the Pine. It drops out of the fort that Bundick is holding down via keyboard, organ and wafting vocals. This sort-of ballad releases the album from its Play-Doh mold, resulting in an orgasmic cross-fade from left headphone to right to left.
Opening track “Intro Chi Chi” is a trance in full effect. It’s a ride on ecstasy where lying face-up, eyelids relaxed, Bundick delivering his sound, is too pleasant. And for an unknown reason, it seems like the orbiting funk sound is meant for an intellectual audience.
Underneath the Pine doesn’t feel epic, but it sure does feel good.