TORO Y MOI is Chazwick Bundick and whatever genre he wishes to take apart in his spare hours between shows and "online networking." He's been identified as the figurehead for chillwave—an indie-dance genre that passed through the blogosphere last summer. But Bundick has been doing this for a decade, since he was 13.
Toro y Moi's music education is rooted deeply in Web 2.0. As a teenager in South Carolina at the start of the new century, Bundick had virtually no MTV to hate and very few obstacles to discovering and buying obscure records. This left him with no anchored set of values—authenticity, integrity, and such—to uphold in his own music. There was only grist for the mill: a half-century of rock music to catch up with and Google. Bundick emerged from this data as a sonic libertine.
Bundick, his vast iTunes library, and the genre-busting demos he made before signing to Carpark Records were all enabled by the digital music utopia that arose after Napster. The same can be said for Toro y Moi's debut album of spectral, kitchen-sink new jack, Causers of This. The record betrays the taste of a listener who was never bothered by such quibbles as whether his favorite band sold out. Causers is avant-pop and bubblegum concrète, using the twisty-turny decrepitude of magnetic tape as a thematic production trope.
But Bundick has another trick up his sleeve. Later this year, Carpark plans to release a second Toro y Moi album, one restricted by the traditional rock formula of bass, drums, and guitar. This fits within Bundick's primary musical influences, which include two albums he cites with equal reverence: The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Weezer's self-titled debut. Their shared impact on Causers of This is felt in the boyishly unaffected falsetto wafting around the verses. Listen closely, through the album's jazz rap beats and New Romantic synth washes, and you'll hear in this voice a plea against the rigid hierarchy of rock over pop. After 60 years of accumulated history, it's time to shuffle the playlist.