Photograph by Andrew Paynter

Photograph by Andrew Paynter

It’s hard to believe we’re four months into 2013. Winter has worn out its welcome, spring is slowly creeping into the picture, and another year of university has come to a close. This mixtape is pretty self-explanatory: a collection of nine tracks that have accompanied me through yet another semester.

Atoms for Peace

Atoms for Peace – Default

A cold, calculated piece of electronic sprawl from Thom Yorke and company. I love the clickety-clack beat and the icy synths on the chorus, which are so hostile and distant. It feels like I’m back in the land of Kid A.

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— , April 30, 2013    Comments Off on The Sounds of the Semester

September 3-5, 2011, Seattle, Washington — To say that I enjoyed myself at Bumbershoot 2011 would be an understatement. In their four years co-producing the event, One Reel & AEG Live have truly achieved something special incorporating numerous venues inside the seventy-four-acre Seattle Centre over labour day weekend. Bumbershoot’s greatest assets are its use of space, the variety of musical acts, presentations of other mediums of art, Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project, and beer gardens with great stage views.

On the first day, Seattle sextet Pickwick played two dazzling shows filled with their mixture sultry garage hodgepodge, while Swedish act Little Dragon had the crowd dancing on the Fisher Green stage. Adorned in gold clothing and electric blue shoes, vocalist Yukimi Nagano pranced around the stage, perfectly in sync with the synthpop being generated from her bandmates. Ray LaMontagne and his backing band the Pariah Dogs closed the evening with their soulful folk, playing hits such as ‘Jolene’, ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’, and ‘Trouble’.

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— , September 19, 2011    2 Comments

Photograph by Jordan Blackmon

Toro Y Moi, the moniker of South Carolina’s Chazwick Bundick, released his sophomore album Underneath the Pine on Carpark Records early last week. While his previous effort Causers of This found a contented spot between Washed Out’s Life of Leisure and Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, Underneath the Pine is an unmistakable departure from past practices. Underneath the Pine still develops using ethereal electronics and blasé basslines, but the foundation of Bundick’s work is more urgent and spacious. The record is flush with instrumentation that is a marked transition from sequencing tracks with a blanket-aesthetic of heavy processing to live recording. The result is a cleaner presentation that radiates the subtleties and sonic textures of Toro Y Moi’s earlier works in an environment of organic rhythms and nostalgic flair.

The most noticeable divergence from Causers of This is Bundick’s emergent emphasis on funk and disco. Underneath the Pine illustrates the expansive spectrum of soul and seventies-tinged pop as the record blossoms with arpeggiated piano swathed in synthesizers on tracks such as ‘Divina’. The two minute mesmeriser begins with a slow burning interlude spread with sparse hints of percussion and atmospheric loops until a medley of keyboards and a muted guitar kick in and drive the piece. Underneath the Pine‘s use of instrumentation instead of relying on the sample-based tendencies of its predecessor results in a dynamic record that expounds richness in a cleaner, less distorted and more assertive environment. Toro Y Moi proves his brilliant knack for arrangement and production on standouts ‘New Beat’ and album-closer ‘Elise’.

While sitting in direct contrast to Causers of This, Underneath the Pine is a more convincing and refined effort as a standalone album. The record’s strongest feature comes from the diversity of sources it taps. The variance on Underneath the Pine is a mosaic of soul-pop and retro R&B, all meticulously composed into a cohesive whole. Toro Y Moi avoids filtering gimmicks and kitsch use of distort while still building closely around themes of funk, disco, and jazz. Bundick’s voice drifts amid clouds and rings across the horizon on the falsetto peaks of ‘Still Sound’. The track evolves against a living backdrop of bass, percussion, and piano that sound more consistent with a well-versed band than an analog solo project. Bundick is at his best on ‘Still Sound’ as he pines longingly, “There was a finer life when I was with my friends and I could always see my family, that’s what I still want now even if I’m here and I know they won’t be waiting, ’cause I don’t want to be alone.”

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— , February 28, 2011    Comments Off on Toro Y Moi: Underneath the Pine