Les Sins, Michael

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 11.04.14 in Reviews

As Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick’s music has flashed moments of pretty folk songwriting, gleaming R&B vocals and keys that could have been lifted from an obscure boogie 12-inch. And on songs like “New Beat” or “Harm in Change,” Bundick amalgamates all of the above to great effect. When making music as Les Sins, though, Bundick emphasizes dance music instead. Early house-friendly singles like “Fetch” and “Grind” were released on Dan Snaith’s Jiaolong imprint, which Snaith used for the electronic dance tracks that didn’t quite fit under his own Caribou alias. Jiaolong also provided a home for the dance-oriented side projects from the likes of Owen Pallett and Junior Boys‘ Jeremy Greenspan, so Bundick was in good company.

Diluted and unfocused electronic dance music

While Bundick revisits deep house on his early Les Sins singles, the sound of the full-length shifts from there. The album opens with the sound of ’80s Chicago, early Trax singles and Cajmere sides, when hip-hop samples were chopped up and thrown on an 808 beat. That’s Nas (from “One Love”) providing the hook on the thumping “Talk About,” one of Michael‘s most effective tracks. Rather than the smooth and luminous electronic music that Snaith and other indie dance producers favor, Les Sins keeps the rough edges intact.

As the album moves on, though, Bundick dilutes his own dance moves, adding too many elements to tracks that would prove more effective if kept to just a few. “Toy” and its stuttering beat gets built around another hiccupping hip-hop sample, but the slow oscillation of synth and flute trill make it lose focus. The floating electric keys, slow pulse and R&B vocal of “Bellow” might scan as Moodymann-esque, but while the latter has an uncanny ability to make something mesmeric out of those three elements, Bundick’s own attempt fizzles. The mosquito-buzz keys of “Sticky” sound like a riff left off a Toro y Moi album. The catchiest track here, “Why,” brings to mind the boogie moves of Bundick’s Freaking Out EP and one wonders what simply bringing more dance elements to bear on a Toro y Moi album might yield instead.