Toro y Moi – Who I Am
With Toro y Moi’s last album, 2017’s pleasant but often forgettable Boo Boo, it seemed possible that Chaz Bear was running out of new ways to make his habitually laid-back music register a pulse. He’d already spun his sound in seemingly every possible permutation, from lo-fi sampledelia to instrumental disco to guitar-crunched indie rock and back again. On Boo Boo, with tempos sagging like a wet paper bag, his production chops too often outstripped his songwriting abilities—a weakness that had dogged Bear (fka Chaz Bundick) since his debut.
But on Outer Peace, Bear sounds revitalized: Buoyed by a refined take on the kinds of dance music he has occasionally toyed with as Les Sins, his woozily recumbent sounds snap to attention. It’s the most smartly crafted Toro y Moi album since 2011’s Underneath the Pine, bringing Bear’s stylistic savvy and studio finesse to some of the stickiest songs in his catalog. Lean, packing 10 tracks in just over half an hour, his sixth album is frontloaded with breezy, house-inspired grooves, shot through with bassline after truly excellent bassline, and fleshed out with a handful of surprisingly affecting sad-trap tearjerkers. The production is comfortably mid-fi—neither expensively hi-def nor self-consciously distorted or tape-warped—yet it sounds remarkable on headphones or good speakers, the rare example of indie dance whose sound design could go toe to toe against most “proper” dance music. It will make any car ride approximately 300% more enjoyable.
In a typical slacker move, Bear wears the low stakes—a mid-career album from an artist closely identified with a cultural moment rapidly receding in the rear-view—on his sleeve. On the giddy single “Freelance,” he turns a filtered vocal line into a garish cavalcade of gagging noises, like a French house tune sung by Bill the Cat. On “Laws of the Universe,” he sings about Prometheus and Bob, claymation characters on the late-1990s Nickelodeon series “KaBlam!”; he mutters that James Murphy is spinning at his house, playing “all rare shit from Flying Dutchman”— a wry and meta-meta double LCD Soundsystem reference. (“I met him at Coachella,” he deadpans. That’s not the only indie inside joke here: On “Monte Carlo,” he rhymes “PDX to OAK” with “Isaac Brock I float away.”)
Read the rest of this article at Pitchfork
Blood Orange – Dark & Handsome (feat. Toro y Moi)
There’s neither strategy nor irony in how Dev Hynes makes the music of Blood Orange sound like its name: It reeks of summer and sunset and suffering. It’s easy to see bright orange, a deep brown; the sounds burn like incense from a familiar room, from a place one called home. It’s present and nostalgic, yesterday weighing a ton like the vinyl on the needle. This is the worldview Hynes has accomplished, and continues to expand upon. Angel’s Pulse is an extension of the Negro Swan lens that tidies the loose ends of the preceding work by leaning even further into the impulsive, unhinged nature that’s brought such glory to the Blood Orange name. Hynes landed on the (appropriate) mixtape label out of necessity rather than invention, but there’s nothing hurried or sacrificial about the painful distillations archived via this collage. Hynes remains thoughtful, truthful, and truly collaborative in ways that continue to surprise the listener.
The collaborative point is what gives Angel’s Pulse its heartbeat: It’s the only place where you’ll find Project Pat and Gangsta Boo alongside tinashe, Joba bearing his soul after Arca sings in Spanish, and any BennY RevivaL feature at all. Where Hynes lags in his own vocal abilities, he continues to excel in his role as producer and organizer, channeling and challenging all his trusted companions to fulfill his wishes by bringing their fullest selves to the table. That’s why Chaz Bundick brings the sauce back out, why Ian Isiah continues to lay buttery falsetto all over, and how Aaron Maine drops the guard somewhere in Berlin on “Berlin.” For Hynes himself, a challenge: a mixtape much like the ones he’d usually create for friends — or no one, let him tell it — has seen the light of day in a fraction of the time he usually takes between projects. The 30-something spirit courses through the veins of Angel’s Pulse: concerns of the body and its failings, of the history that repeats itself, and of the ever-depleting reserves of fucks to give. It’s crisis music (again), but with far more grace and control.
In a sense, Angel’s Pulse traces the lineage of Hynes’ influence by allowing them to blossom in the most unexpected ways. The holy undertones of Negro Swan continue to bubble beneath the ongoing struggles presented here. (See “Birmingham,” a searing tribute to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963.) There’s also a subtle, lingering queerness embedded deep in the hues of the tape, per the custom in Blood Orange’s oeuvre. (“Baby Florence (Figure)” pivots between runway-ready ballroom house and an insular, ambient pop.) Where Negro Swan felt much larger and swelling, Angel’s Pulse dwells in isolation and makes due with the exhilaration that comes from an uncertain tomorrow. Where its predecessor paves the way to accepting the nothingness, this mixtape gives the meaningless a new glow and even less clarity as Hynes continues to wait for the smoke to clear. In tandem, perhaps Hynes has offered much more than a roadmap to self-love and resistance… perhaps he’s reminding one to give one’s self permission to be lost, found, and lost once more. Quite the even trade for such stunning steps forward toward the unknown.
Read the rest of this article at Vinyl Me Please
Tycho – Pink & Blue (feat. Saint Sinner)
Traditionally, I have not been a Tycho fan. I’ve often found Scott Hansen’s music to be the sonic equivalent of a screensaver, a form of ambient Muzak fit for little else besides zoning out while completing a mindless task. “Easy,” the single he released last month, was that kind of song. I didn’t like it.
“Pink & Blue” is something different. Tycho’s latest single, which accompanies today’s announcement of his new album Weather, is a proper pop song, and a good one at that. Like “Easy,” it features vocals from Saint Sinner, the singer born Hannah Cottrell. But this time, rather than merely adding atmospheric coos to Tycho’s electro-organic textures, she’s breathily intoning lovesick lyrics. Matched with a gently thwacking beat that calls back to early dubstep and eventually ambient synth-pop, it reminds me of Wet, Yumi Zouma, and other top alt-pop balladeers. And given that Tycho says the whole new album is a collaboration with Cottrell, it makes me curious about what else they’ve come up with.
Here’s Saint Sinner explaining the lyrics:
The lines, Oh, pink and blue, you know I look good on you, originally stemmed from when I was romantically involved with a man and a woman simultaneously, for the first time in my life. It was a defining moment for me. I went from being a young religious kid who thought she would marry a man to a young woman who realized her love for women. I now found myself somewhere in the middle, leaning more closely to women. “Pink & Blue” is a love song to no one, to everyone, and to myself. It’s a sweet reminder to all lovers to hold onto their love with open arms; to be fearless about any type of love and to be fearless about losing their love. Love is never lost.
Read the rest of this article at Stereogum
Kilter Ft. Espacio Dios – Limitless
Already providing us with a plethora of new music in 2019 through bangers ‘Overdrive’, ‘Tmpr’ and ‘One In Hand’, Australian producer Kilter is back at it with a bass heavy delight featuring Espacio Dios titled ‘LIMITLESS’.
Utilising the swagger and upbeat vocals of Espacio Dios, ‘LIMITLESS’ shows a restraint in Kilter through an R&B influence in the production centred around a resounding bass line and rising percussion. There’s still that trademark charismatic groove that has been a staple with the Australian producers previous offerings, showcasing a welcomed shade of colour in Kilter‘s artillery.
Read the rest of this article at Acid Stag