“Chillwave” was one of the most hotly debated, and much-derided, terms to come out of the indie blogosphere in the past couple of years. Still, on whichever side of the divide you fell, it was impossible to ignore the mellow, lo-fi electronic acts that began to dominate the Internet “scene” from summer 2009 onwards.
Acts like Washed Out and Neon Indian traded in a highly nostalgic, yet purposely unspecific mish-mash of ’80s easy listening, downtempo electronic music, and even touches of shoegaze and post-rock. All of this came with a distinctly beachy, tropical mood, even from acts whose geographical provenance was decidedly landlocked.
Still, with the dawn of 2011, it’s been approximately a thousand Internet years since chillwave was first hot, and the smartest acts from the beginning of the trend have begun to move on. Washed Out, for instance, has stopped touring as a one-man act with a laptop and beefed things up with a full, funkier live band.
Following in this path is Toro y Moi, also originally the project of just one man, Chazwick Bundick. His project began as bedroom laptop tinkering, mixing Beach Boys-style harmonies with old synth-pop and touches of hip-hop. But thanks to a friendship with Washed Out’s Ernest Greene and some strong tracks, within a year he had scored a deal with indie label Carpark Records.
The original plan was to release two albums in 2010, one more strictly electronic, and the other delving into live instrumentation. The first, Causers of This, came out on time, but it wasn’t until early 2011 that the follow-up, Underneath the Pine, was ready for the light of day.
Carpark recently released a new single from the new Toro y Moi album called “New Beat,” and as promised, it’s more organic-sounding. Still present, though, are Bundwick’s chilled-out vocals, percolating synths, and occasional hip-hop samples. Stream the new single below, and check out a video for another song, “Still Sound,” after that.