Chaz Bundick builds latest moniker with first studio album

Also known as Toro Y Moi, Chaz Bundick has re-invented himself again as Les Sins. derrick taruc via Flickr Creative Commons

In 2010, Chaz Bundick, known to many as the indie-pop, chillwave, nu-disco (or almost any other genre out there) artist Toro Y Moi, began releasing music under a second moniker: Les Sins.

Under this new name, Bundick has produced more dance-worthy music, characterized by strong bass. The three EPs released by Les Sins include club-friendly songs “Fetch” (2012) and “Grind” (2013), as well as the summer dance groove “Lina” (2010). This work received mild critical acclaim, but nothing to the extent of his more famous and appreciated work as Toro Y Moi. Still, Bundick has spent the past year working on his first studio album released under his alter ego. The debut LP, “Michael,” features 11 tracks spread out over 40 minutes of head-bobbing, foot-tapping, finger-wagging bliss.

Released yesterday, the album begins with a sample of a British person speaking. The voice commands, “talk about your newest record” — a jab directed at recent critics. Despite the fact that “Michael” is Bundick’s fourth studio album, it is still a stepping stone in his career as Les Sins, and it would only be only natural for the artist to feel a certain amount of concern in regards to critical reception. The beat then kicks up with samples of hip-hop-style vocals, and the album takes off from there.

“Michael” moves on to more experimental tracks with “Past” and “Toy,” which feature haunting melodies played on piano or flute overlaid on a bass-heavy synth and a thumping beat. These tracks feature very few vocals and rely mostly on the daring bass. They probably won’t be replayed at dance parties in the future, but they should be appreciated for their technical merit.

The album continues with the two most danceable tunes — previously released as singles to generate interest for the upcoming album — “Why” and “Bother.” The former features relatively unknown singer Nate Salman, who adds a soft and soulful vocal accompaniment to the catchy, masterfully composed beat. The song will remind fans of Bundick’s earlier work, in particular his Toro Y Moi EP “Freaking Out (2011),” with its funky disco grooves. This song is the perfect blend of happy and danceable, sure to make its way onto many a road trip CD and summer rooftop party set-list. “Bother” is one of those tracks that might be grating on first listen, but repeat plays bring out the song’s infectious side, making it a perfect choice for an adventurous club DJ or for youths at rooftop parties in Brooklyn.

While the album unfortunately peaks quite early on, there are still some gems to be found in the remaining songs. “Minato” and “Call” blend harsher club beats with Bundick’s penchant for pop in very interesting ways, recreating the sweaty atmosphere of a discotheque without being too vulgar. The album finishes off strong with “Do Right,” which will please fans of the more low-key Toro vibe. “Do Right” features Bundick’s signature recipe of catchy, ambient sounds and samples of an angelic female voice. Bundick acts as a DJ in this last song, fading his work as Les Sins seamlessly into his next album, released under Toro Y Moi.

“Michael” isn’t perfect. Some songs lull and others are just too brash, but that is the nature of experimental work. Bundick achieved success as Toro Y Moi in the same way — by paving new ground in the genre and defying expectations. One cannot begin to describe the chillwave genre without mentioning Toro Y Moi, nor can one have a low-key apartment party without his enchanting beats emanating from the speaker. Now, Bundick is trying to make a name for himself on the dance floor as Les Sins, introducing a fresh take on the increasingly generic club track.


Summary

"Michael" isn’t perfect. Some songs lull and others are just too brash, but that is the nature of experimental work.

3 stars
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