Chaz Bear is branching out from the dark corners of his mind and heart. The 32-year old producer, better known as Toro y Moi, has reached the height of his success with stories of love, sacrifice and heartbreak at his core. He spent his last project, 2017’s gloomy “Boo Boo,” in a cloudy haze, utilizing moody grooves and synth-funk vibes to create an atmosphere that mirrored his heartbreak stemming from a recent breakup.
The South Carolina-born singer and songwriter has always been a master at creating immersive soundscapes for his listeners to get lost in. Jumping from sound to sound, Chaz never fails to mix and master his pieces to feel like one cohesive, abstract song. On his latest offering “Outer Peace,” the sun appears to finally be peeking through the clouds. The project showcases a vibrant album cover, trading deep, intense blues and purples for explosions of bright reds and oranges, hinting at the change of mood this project offers.
Toro y Moi is the Bear Grylls of the music industry — drop him into any musical landscape or genre and he will emerge unscathed and thriving. The same can be said about “Outer Peace,” with Chaz showcasing his versatility by welding the worlds of hip hop and R&B with his signature funky chillwave backbone. The result is audio bliss.
Admittedly, this sonic switch was somewhat of a challenge for Chaz, but it’s one he welcomed with open arms. “I think it’s important to sort of go outside your comfort zone or go outside of what people think you should be doing,” Bear explained to NPR. “I enjoy the challenge because it’s so easy to go with the flow sometimes, but you’ve got to remember to be a little bit outside your comfort zone.”
In some circles, 21st century culture and technology has been deemed as the beginning of end, ala a Black Mirror episode, but Toro y Moi wants to change that negative connotation. “Outer Peace” revolves around the connectivity and freedom a social media driven world can bring. “No more shoes and socks, I only rock sandals / I can’t tell if I’m hip or getting old,” he croons on standout track “Freelance,” an ode to the lack of a dress code working at home can bring.
“Technology is allowing people to become creative at home and become almost like entrepreneurs just from their desks,” Bear told NPR. “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.”
This creativity is the root of what makes Chaz’s music so intoxicating. He’s always pushing the boundaries and breaking down the walls of the music genres we once knew, morphing the rubble into his own image.
With only a 31-minute runtime, the album moves at a rapid pace but the groovy basslines and futuristic funk form a satisfying project and the perfect soundtrack for a ride off into the sunset.
Stream “Outer Peace”