Toro y Moi’s most recent album, released on Jan. 18, radiates just what we all need: Outer Peace. A chillwave genius and a talented graphic designer, Toro y Moi (also known as Chazwick Bradley Bundick) has incorporated his experimental brilliance in the 10 track LP. The 2019 album follows after almost a decade since the start of his professional music career when he released his debut album Causers of This in 2010.
Since the official album drop, Outer Peace has been reviewed and praised by Pitchfork and NPR, among many others. In his interview with NPR and its special First Listen program, Moi described how he incorporates technology in Outer Peace.
“Technology is allowing people to become creative at home and become almost like entrepreneurs just from their desks,” he said. “I felt like that’s who I really wanted to connect with [on this album] — the people that are grinding behind the computer in a creative way.”
The iconic album cover is equally as stunning as the music: An image of Toro y Moi on an unconventional orange yoga ball chair, facing his brightly lit musical equipment before a vibrant backdrop reminds us of the otherworldly experience that accompanies the art of soundscapes in the present age of technology.
The opening track, ”Fading,” is a combination of techno, house, pop, and basically every chime and bell one may find on the electronic drum kits of a music software mixer. The overlap of echo effects, coupled with all kinds of rhythmic sequences, makes it a song you would add to your carefully curated, celestial-themed playlist. After the last line of the song, “everything is fading, fading, fading,” Toro y Moi jumps right into “Ordinary Pleasure,” a Daft Punk inspired tune that reminds me of “Mirage” from his 2017 Boo Boo album but at a faster tempo. The groove continues in “Laws of the Universe,” where his subtle scat singing joins in on a vintage synth keyboard solo.
By the time you get to “Miss Me,” featuring R&B singer ABRA, or “darkwaveduchess” as she calls herself on Instagram, the mood changes to one of sombre contemplation, a feeling I would imagine one might experience while floating alone in outer space. At the same time “New House” touches on themes with repetitive lyrics carrying the weight of heavier life realities: “I want a brand new house / Something I can not buy, something I can afford.”
While Toro y Moi explores questions of belonging, or the lack thereof, he confidently claims ownership of his self-driven creativity, especially in “Freelance.” And, of course, you could not forget the eye-catching music video that goes with it: Toro y Moi, the freelancer himself, bobs his head while a film camera zooms in and out, his music production studio now the central subject of a photography shoot. In fact, “Freelance” is only one of many other hit music video masterpieces. “Girl Like You” and “Say That,” my personal favorites, are like short, experimental films, showcasing breathtakingly visual aestheticism that speaks for the artistry of Toro’s imaginative potential.
In another interview with Complex, Toro y Moi revealed that his favorite track from Outer Peace is “Who I Am,” a song with both an uplifting beat and a rather poignant message about identity crisis: “Add an accent to your sound / Now I don’t know who I am.” Expressing his current preference for short songs that fit a general mood, Toro y Moi explains that the album fits into “playlist culture,” with each song claiming their own segments under a common “futuristic vibe.” The immediacy of the short but meaningful melodies creates one cohesive picture that leaves a strong impression on the listener.
The last two tracks of the album feature WET and Instupendo in “Monte Carlo” and “50-50,” respectively. “Monte Carlo,” while also very futuristic, draws inspiration from the 1987 Monte Carlo, a vintage, analog car model that Toro y Moi reimagines. And finally, “50-50” ends in a trance-like, lo-fi beat with subtle hi-hats that make it all the more dynamic. The way the song eases its way into silence almost seems to resolve the existential questions that he incorporates in each song.
By the end Outer Peace makes you feel as though you yourself have attained inner peace, ironically. It takes you back to your quiet room, where a dim light hovers over your computer and your keyboard, a space that you wire yourself up in. Outer Peace is the perfect album for the introversion that exists within all of us at the end of a challenging day.