Toro Y Moi – Underneath the Pine

January 01, 1970



The art for Underneath the Pine is almost grossly sensual, a sweat-glazed, mustache fringed mouth in extreme
close-up, with some sort of soft pinkish growths protruding from the lips. Further
inspection identifies the pink substance as grapefruit segments, not the most
erotic of snacks in other contexts. Yet the photo is so oddly, so exquisitely
arranged that even this reducing-diet staple looks sexual.


In the same way, Underneath the
wreathes delicate little melodies and fleeting thoughts in a haze of
1970s funk-psych-soul pheromones, so that even the most calorie-free sentiments
achieve the heft of sensuality. To say that Underneath the Pine is heavier on
style than substance is to miss the point. Its glossy, glassy style is so
extreme as to become the substance.


Bundick has been recording as
Toro Y Moi for about a decade, at first at home for his own amusement, and
later, as one of the leading progenitors of the chillwave movement. Chillwave’s
innovation is to link the introspection of bedroom pop to the sleek undulations
of the dance floor – and Bundick is very, very good at this.


“New Beat,” for instance,
follows rubbery basslines and vintage ‘70s synths down a funk-disco rabbit
hole, its fundamentals all butt-shaking physicality. Still, as in Alice in Wonderland,
there’s a psycho-tropic potion at the bottom of the barrow, and Bundick drinks
it down. Layered over the disco are the dreamiest layers of inward looking
vocals, the sheerest gauzes of shimmery sound. If you spliced the trippiest
elements of, say, Earth Wind and Fire with the wordless vocalizations of Animal
Collective, it might sound a little bit like this.


Bundick slathers the most obvious
disco touches onto songs at the beginning and the end of this disc. Towards the
middle, funk and R&B subside into a flavoring, rather than the dominant
element. Wordless “Divina,” for instance, conjures quiet storm soul with fat
pulses of bass and elegiac keyboards, while “Before I’m Done” is an almost
folky mesh of guitar and voice, with Black Moth Super Rainbow’s electronically
hazed flute borrowed for the background.   


These mid-section songs are
beautifully arranged, with a multiplicity of elements coexisting in a clean
white space. Still even as “Got Blinded”‘s “ah-ah-ah-ah” vocals climb into
clouds of glory, you can’t help looking for a bit of substance. These are
exquisite mirages, floating upward on the slightest draft of air. Pretty
enough, but feather-light.


DOWNLOAD: “Before I’m Done” “New Beat” “Got Blinded” JENNIFER KELLY

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