This “June 2009” is curious, to say the least. Normally, you would expect a reissue of classics from yesteryear or half-forgotten material, like for instance the records of Archers Of Loaf, or an old tape from 1987 by Lou Barlow. But to release this record, when it's only been three years since an artist broke onto the scene, is odd, almost worthy of a case study. We're talking about the new (old) work by Toro Y Moi, a series of ten demos released as a nice 7” box set, featuring a retrospective of the material he recorded in, yes, June 2009, just months before he started to wreak havoc in the blogosphere. At the time, Chaz Bundick was experimenting a lot with production software and samples, and he had just finished his studies. It was a time of doubt, when he had more questions than answers. What am I supposed to do now? Is New York the right place for me to start a career as an artist? The result of this internal debate was this record, which until now was only available as a CD-R on one of his first tours.
Let's start with the most interesting part, the first version of one of his early hits, “Talamak”. This track alone justifies this release, because it shows the contrast between the Toro Y Moi who was producing alone in his dorm room and his debut album, “Causers Of This”. The main difference here, apart from the sound obviously being dirtier, which accentuates the unstable character of the beat, is that this version is a minute and a half longer, as Bundick added an intro and an outro. The B-side of this 7” is “Sad Sams”, and we don't know why they waited so long to release this anthem; it is, without a doubt, the best track of the lot.
This album is also stimulating because, instead of displaying his passion for black and dance music, as he has been doing so far, he shows a certain obsession with lo-fi pop. Opener “Best Around” is much closer to people like Ariel Pink than to Ernest Greene (Washed Out). But like all of his efforts, this is an eclectic piece. “Take The L To Leave” has the disco and funk aromas of his later work, and it starts with the samples he played around with so much while he was still at university. Ditto for “Drive South”, driven by a wonderful bass line. “Girl Problems” seems touched by the sun of his new home, California (he's currently based in Berkeley), but with a guitar at the end that adds a whole lotta groove. He takes this sound to the extreme on the very surf-like “Dead Pontoon” (reminiscent of Wavves in the first part), with several rhythm changes.
For the last vinyl, Toro Y Moi saved two more curious pieces. Bundick sounds more naked than ever here, especially on last track, “New Loved Ones”, where he frees himself from the synths and other electronic equipment, leaving only an acoustic guitar. All in all, this effort not only confirms that the South Carolina artist is one of the most exciting and eclectic producers of the moment, but it also shows the talent he already had in his earliest days.