Much has changed for Chaz Bundick and his project Toro y Moi since playing The Independent two years ago. Keyboardist Anthony Ferraro was added to the touring band, Toro y Moi then graduated to performing at the much larger Fox Theater Oakland, and Bundick once again reset and pivoted toward a new beat for his fourth album under the TYM moniker.
The fourth Toro y Moi album, What For?, is set to release April 7th, and you can listen to it now at NPR Music.
But there’s another new element that emerged from witnessing Toro y Moi premier new tracks over the weekend in SF at The Independent. It’s becoming more and more ambiguous whether Toro y Moi is Chaz Bundick, or is Toro y Moi the five-piece group that impressed in such a spectacular, unhurried way Saturday night with 70’s-influenced psych-disco-funk. Granted they can be both at once, and Bundick is the sole creative song-crafting force, but it must be asked now: Is Toro y Moi a man or a band?
An intense wall of sound began the show with “What You Want,” the first track off the new LP, pushing the soundboard into the red with all instruments swirling on the high side, jarring the shit out of me. Yes, it was the opposite of chill, but it acted as a palate cleanser, bringing an “I am here” mentality to the moment. The band and sound team may have still been acclimating to each other, but it more likely was an intentional sonic slap to the face. And once the second single “Buffalo” took over next, the sound was tight and dialed in for the duration of the 90-minute show.
There is less focus on Bundick as the centerpiece of the outfit compared to before, with more attention being paid to the unit’s loose cohesiveness that ultimately creates a wandering, exploratory sensibility.
Bundick is now positioned all the way to stage left, as opposed to being front and center at the podium, which was the touring setup in support of the electronic-leaning Anything in Return. When Bundick took to the keys during the encore, he crafted an interlacing synchronicity with band key player Anthony Ferraro that had the two locked in sync. A focus on group solidarity appears to be the centerpiece now.
Selections from Anything in Return got the biggest reaction out of the SF crowd (most notably “Rose Quartz”, “So Many Details” & “Say That” to end the night”), but each cut transitioned into funk grooves, getting a coat of paint from the mindset of the new album. Les Sins seems to be Bundick’s electronic vehicle now, while Toro y Moi delves into heady instrumentation in the vein of Underneath The Pine.
Now a Bay Area resident out of Berkeley, Bundick morphs and changes in some way with each new output — that much is clear. And Chaz Bundick deserves all credit as the creative force behind Toro y Moi, but with this step toward group unification, perhaps it makes sense to dub Toro y Moi as a band instead of a stage name.
What You Want
So Many Details
Grown Up Calls
Spell It Out
Why feat. Nate Salman (Les Sins cover)