In his new funky and artfully disjointed project “Soul Trash,” Toro y Moi leaves much to the imagination. “Soul Trash” is steeped in mystery — relatively sparse production and lyrics create a gray and cloudy atmosphere. If you’re willing to listen, you’ll find little snapshots of Toro y Moi lost in his own life. Slow, timeless days where he wakes up not knowing the time on “castayway_tron_hifi_v2,” being lost in the void in “9-19-17_B_Blackhole_Hifi_V3,” and finding the right time to get away in “7-21-17_Substitute_HIfi_V3” all paint a picture of Toro y Moi seeking to find himself in the midst of what seems like a transition point. Something we all feel in life’s monotony. Experimental, a little grungy, and with sound waves and tracks that surf low to the ground, “Soul Trash” is a glimpse into Toro y Moi’s mind. Each track, titled with what looks to be a calendar date, is a little day in the life of Toro y Moi. These are five days we think are worth reliving with Toro y Moi’s “Soul Trash.”
The intro to “Soul Trash” is an instrumental and all in your head. With no words to hear, Toro y Moi forces you to focus on the music and just get lost in your thoughts thinking, “What is he trying to tell us?” “3-28-18B” starts with a slow and lonely guitar that holds a melancholy note throughout the track. The fragmented drums break up any comfort you were hoping to gain in the first seconds of “Soul Trash.” At a slow pace, “3-28-18B” is reminiscent of a lazy Sunday morning when the sun is too bright and the world is too loud, but you have to get up anyway, and annoying as the sunlight is, it still gives you hope that the day will hold something beautiful. A tired hopefulness left unresolved by the short intro track.
b_elijah_therapy_v2 (feat. Elijah Kessler)
With the year coming to an end, it’s natural to think that it went by way too fast. SoundCloud rapper Elijah Kessler and Toro y Moi definitely do. The most traditional trap track on “Soul Trash,” “b_elijah_therapy_v2” speaks to those moments where life is too fast and won’t stop moving for any of us. Kessler raps, in a contemporary sing-song style, “I got work in the morning / how am I supposed to get there / do you not think I’m important?” This is a struggle, no matter your age, we can all relate to getting up every day to go somewhere. Sometimes it seems like no one likes you enough to just let you sleep in for once. The song’s mood is driven by a moving, shuffling beat and bass, underneath airy synths and bouncy hi-hats all coming together to capture a brief sound image of a world that moves too fast for all of us.
“7-21-17_substitute_hifi_v3” will haunt your dreams. It’s electronic, simple and draws you in with an addictive amount of deep bass in the first thirty seconds. Toro y Moi’s voice is pure, nothing too distorted or processed, and he sings a solitary melody that echoes around the track amidst scratchy ambient crackles and layers of synths. The lyrics remain vague as Toro sings “Guess they gonna substitute / guess they gonna take you out / guess they gonna put me in / guess I gotta figure this out.” While it’s unclear what Toro has to “figure out” or even who “they” are, one message he sings is clear. He has to find the right time to “get the f*ck outta here.” In a way, we’re always waiting for the right moment to keep moving forward, for us to be substituted and for someone to take our place. Toro communicates this in precise words in a single verse in the body of the track. The rest of “7-21-17_substitute_hifi_v3” holds ambient, echoing vocals over a lumbering bass and crackling drums. Before you know it, he’s gone.
“Soul Trash” is an offering that doesn’t shy away from Toro y Moi’s experimental roots. Although the song is only a minute and 36 seconds long, “1-27-17_intro_function_wifi_v3” is rich with intention. The track starts with an aggressive drilling sound, but quickly transitions into space-age synths and a heavily processed and barely understandable vocal sample. This seamless merging of sounds and genres is one of Toro y Moi’s hallmark techniques. Toro y Moi starts rapping over a scattered but solid bass and drum track. The bass is full and the 70s nostalgic synth chimes pull you into Toro y Moi’s world, conjuring up images of riding on a cool night in a sleek black, leather seated car with the moon roof open and cold breeze on your face.
Closing out our five picks is one of the most unique songs on “Soul Trash.” On this track, Toro y Moi enters a new alt-indie funk space, revisiting acoustic elements from the album’s first track. Titled “4-26-18_tonys_drewbanga_hifi,” features Drew Banga, the Oakland-native multi-instrumentalist and producer. In an interview with Wine and Bowties, Drew Banga mentions doing a session with Toro y Moi and with the skillful bass and drums on this track, it’s possible this is the product of that session. Throughout the song, Toro y Moi sparingly whispers mundane lyrics about taking out the trash and needing to throw away “some stuff.” “4-26-18_tonys_drewbanga_hifi” is essentially a guitarist, drummer, who fades in and out of the sound stage, and synth keyboardist all playing to create a careless and calm space for Toro y Moi to occupy with his gentle vocals. The track as a whole almost sounds like the closing number at a jazz club, the band members are a little tired and are just jamming and letting the music flow. “4-26-18_tonys_drewbanga_hifi” is chill and relaxed like that. It’s slow, smooth, almost smokey, and invites you to kick back, close your eyes, and just listen.