Narwhal Party

Toro y Moi//Music and Time and Place
03/30/2010, 10:24 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , ,

So it turns out that Causers Of This by Toro y Moi is quintessential rainy-driving-on-a-Spring-Break-Monday music. The layers of reverb-blanketed vocals, lazy beats, and the speedup/slow down tape effects create a woozy feel that’s intensified by lethargic, worn out windshield wipers. The water sloshes off the windshield sluggishly, but coolly. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the album opens with one of the best one-two punches in recent memory. “Blessa” sets the mood for the record, cool and calm, thoroughly laid back. Falsetto back-ups float around in the ether, creating a bed for Chaz Bundick’s sweetly assured vocals (God, I hope that’s his real name). After a brief two minutes, the song drops into a haphazardly picked electric guitar over spare blips, but never ends. The tempo drops a bit, hardly noticeable until the second track, “Minors,” kicks in, all at once. This downshift in tempo only intensifies the groove that “Blessa” set up. The chorus-first approach is absolutely perfect here. The other melancholy songs (“Fax Shadow,” “Talamak,” and “You Hid”) tend to work better with the aesthetic set up by the first two songs, but the other 70s-tinged upbeat songs certainly have their place (especially when the sun cuts through the clouds).

Album opener, “Blessa”–

“Talamak” —

I’m always amazed at music’s ability to attach itself to a time and place. The way cinnamon smells like Christmas, Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born will always feel like that rainy Fall, driving my parents car from Tacoma to Seattle again and again, getting to know the open space in the clutch between the floor mat and the tension of the gears. Anything released in 2006 reminds me of my old white Honda that I later wrecked on the West Seattle Bridge while listening to Lupe Fiasco. Embarrassingly enough, Saves The Day’s Stay What You Are will always represent an all-night drive home from the Gorge one summer, all knotted up with adolescent frustration and unrequited whatever. And Nirvana’s From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishka will always be tied to that ice storm, when school was cancelled for a week and I played Mario 64 non-stop.

What albums have intense ties to time and place for you? Let me know in the comments.


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