Toro Y Moi – “Mahal” (Dead Ocean)
Street as an artistic idea is a delicate one, it has been tried quite often. But on his seventh album and minibus of the same name, “Mahal,” Toro Y Moi devoted himself to the commuting and speeds of life without any romantic glorification. An album about the gravity of space, aspects of distance, and very short weekends.
Chaz Bear, the creative mind behind Toro Y Moi, has been well on his way throughout his career, both spatially and stylistically. From his bedroom in South Carolina — where he once enriched the kind of acclaimed cold waves that perhaps epitomizes the Lo-fi and self-made era of the 2000s — he heads west to Berkeley. Traveling through the influences and musical eras between then and now has become the hallmark of Toro Y Moi. He also moved administratively, leaving his long-running brand, which ironically goes by the name Carpark. The new companion is Dead Oceans (where, among other things, Japanese Breakfast, Mitsuki and Phoebe Bridgers release their albums).
So road trips are not a new experience for Toro Y Moi. Already in the video stream for his penultimate album “Boo Boo” (2017), the musician snatched us from the back seat during sunrise and sunset in the Bay Area. But although he now also dedicates himself to travel in terms of content on Mahal, Toro Y Moi has never been less stylistically speedy. The word “Mahal” sounds like a return to one’s own landmarks. Since 2015 (“What’s For?”) the guitar hasn’t been so present, Dreamwalker’s psychedelic moments are back in “Underneath The Pine” (2011). The heavy jazz and fusion influences from his collaboration with The Mattson 2 (“Star Stuff”, 2017) are back in consciousness.
pace of life
But why do you keep seeking new magic? “Just stop while you’re still ahead,” Bear sings on “Last Year.” And he asks if sometimes it’s better to get out of the chase before you get past yourself. Adolescent doubts about oneself and one’s place in the world give way to a certain self-image when all is well. Chaz uses one of these to ski through the asphalt in the music video for his single “The Loop” while the kids are standing on the boards around him, as if they were just doing it for the whole world to watch. In direct comparison, the distance that separates us from the new generation of fashion makers, which you cannot escape either at the skate park or on social media, is astounding. The desire grows: “Someone should keep me in the loop, please.” Nobody likes to be left behind. Fragments from the weekend at its end we can note with nostalgia:
“Oh my gosh, where did the weekend go/Oh man, Monday almost slipped.”
Chazz Beer has already debunked in “The Magazine” that the flamboyant vanity of youth has long since turned into a good business model: “This guy in the magazine / Do we just want to see him”. Offering a way out, the distance between you and them brings suffering to society: “I want to get away from everyone / I’ve shattered all daylight in the sun,” the singer Slammy Rose breathes to Joe Louis, as if in reality she was almost absent. So it sways more than height along the “clearance path”. It’s not “seventeen and restless” (“clarity”) anymore.
Despite the shimmering heat of this super-warm album, what’s new is the unmistakable journey into the ’60s and ’70s. “Foreplay” has a sharp taste of ZZ-Top blues rock on the past few bars, before a reunion with Beatles aesthetics arranged with back-fluff guitar on “Déjà Vu”. A sun-melted wah pedal is a constant companion anyway, while a dirty funk stumbles off the bus at Postman. And someone must have always called from somewhere: make more lips!
Confidence in tried and tested traits is not necessarily reproductive. You don’t always have to do something new. It’s hard enough to do the right thing. So when the dynamics of private life encounter an unexpected escape, you quickly pull out your pen before the feeling fades: “I think I define my calendar better / I spent so many days in love.” Because this trip “goes almost fine”, the next appointment will come anyway.
Release date: April 29, 2022
Label: Dead Ocean
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