It’s difficult to properly contemplate Toro Y Moi’s ‘So Many Details’. As the nomenclature, entirely appropriate in this instance, suggests, there’s almost too much to take in. I can’t think of a song released recently that so smacks of just being right. In taking in the woozy electronica that has been steadily marching off the fringes and into the mainstream, blending it with the sort of existential lyricism that you need to have to be taken seriously as an RnB artist in this day and age, basting all that with a funky bass line and some real new-school hip-hop trickery and sprinkling all of that with a familiar name, a powerful brand and a reason to listen, Chazwick Bundick has cooked us up an inimitable piece of contemporary music. Much of the best music is made by those who understand their genres discretely and stick to their confines absolutely. Putting together a tune that has all the hallmarks of a handful of genres and yet sounds almost impossibly like none of them takes guts, vision and a commercial position whereby any label would be hands-off enough to sanction it. Lucky nobody’s messing with the bull.
Almost everything I’ve ever read about Toro Y Moi has located him by reference to the ‘Chillwave’ movement of 2010 which he, along with college friend Ernest Greene (Washed Out), ostensibly spearheaded. It’s a wonderful thing to be so intrinsically bound up in a genre and it is also the curse of all curses. When the going is good and ‘New Rave’ is the biggest thing in the streets and on the blogs, you’d love to be sourced at the origin of the newfangled genre so that any musical etymological enterprise inevitably end up at you. But when things turn sour and the rest of the world moves on, the concept of The Klaxons, for instance, becomes tied to the ball and chain that is the lumbering, tired, passed-used-by-date genre. Which is what makes Toro Y Moi’s newest single, the first we’re hearing from the artist/producer/remixer off his forthcoming third studio album ‘Anything In Return’, that much more exciting. This is coming from a guy who rode the chillwave to its highest point and now has the sense and ability to move, spectacularly, beyond the one-trick-pony characterisation which might otherwise have haunted him.
‘So Many Details’ is at once incomprehensible and utterly enjoyable. The track inscrutably melds the best of all worlds to provide something that bears some approximation to Frank Ocean smooth, The Weeknd cutting, Drake contemplation, Flying Lotus ingenuity, RL Grime wonkiness, Kanye West tribalism and Nintendo 8-bit brilliance and yet sounds equally like all of them and none of them. To describe the track in a series of negatives is to do it an injustice. What it does sound like is serious thought. The beat is superbly layered, frays in parts, invites in a female interloper, turns back in on itself and then dissipates into a spare hi-hat and drum rhythm. The lyrics, demonstrating a vulnerability that has only recently come in vogue, seem to fade in and out of focus riding on waves of melody, as though Toro Y Moi is only accentuating the important parts of an internal dialogue that continues on regardless of his audience. It is anathema to blogging to say that words don’t suffice, but when it comes to ‘So Many Details’, the track has to be heard to be understood.
Toro Y Moi – So Many Details