March of Progress 

Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick looks to contemporary pop and beyond.

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If you've ever desired visual evidence supporting the cliché that money doesn't buy happiness, the clip for Toro Y Moi's "So Many Details" serves well.

In the video for the slinky, secretive dance-pop tune off January's "Anything in Return," Toro mastermind Chaz Bundick surrounds himself with expensive items such as a handsome car and a sprawling place near the beach while maintaining an expression of utter apathy. He has a modellike lady friend, too, but the companions never share any amusement or affection — save for one sequence when the woman smiles while on a cheap merry-go-round in a public park. This portrait of decadence is delivered so solemnly that it's difficult to pin down its message: Is it mocking conspicuous consumption or glorifying the ability to have such a lifestyle in the first place?

"It was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I guess you couldn't tell," Bundick says. "I don't really care about private jets and beach houses. I'm not really into wasting money on superfluous crap." To juxtapose that, the 26-year-old says, "we did the 'Say That' video, which is a song about being completely satisfied while having nothing around you, except for nature — what the world can provide."

"Anything" – Toro's third record — is more openly infatuated with 1990s-and-beyond pop music than anything previous. Recently he discussed the influence that Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Timbaland — three artists who have never shied away from big budgets or lavish living — had on this record. He says Drake's first two releases plus, oddly, the fusion jazz and progressive rock of Utopia, Yes and Magma were influences. "'Underneath the Pine' wasn't exactly the most contemporary-sounding album and I'm fine with that," he says, referencing Toro's 2011 second record. "I did that intentionally. I'm not just interested in music from the 1970s or '80s."

Looking past "Anything," psychedelic and acoustic rock concepts have been rumbling in his head, too. Bundick has taken swift stylistic twists and earned much critical love since Toro Y Moi emerged into the indie music consciousness in 2009 on the heels of chill wave, that trendy style of woozy, introverted indie pop. But the project dates back to when he was just a 15-year-old working in his bedroom. Now based out of Berkeley, Calif., instead of his native Columbia, S.C., Bundick still prefers to write and record at home. He uses a windowless space that houses keyboards, a desk, studio monitors and other audio equipment. Lots of lamps, too. "I'm a big fan of lamps," he adds in his usually reticent speaking voice.

Toro Y Moi isn't Bundick's only alias. He also has his dance-heavy alter ego, Les Sins. While he's clearly fond of the name that brought him to the game, he isn't averse to opportunities for more sounds and personas either. "It doesn't really make sense for me to launch a different band moniker. But I'm the kind of person that would start a new moniker just to release a 7-inch that no one knew about and sell [it] on tour or something," he says. "I'm not opposed to it at all. Might as well strike when the iron's hot still." S

Toro Y Moi will perform with Wild Belle and Dog Bite on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m., at the National, 708 E. Broad St. Tickets are $21.25. thenationalva.com.



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