At first glance, the drawings at the Toro y Moi album preview for his upcoming album, Anything In Return, at Public Works seemed a little disjointed. The new songs themselves are new, and different, but they are still very Toro—layered and complex, evocative of internal emotional dialogue. The drawings, on the other hand, are flat, graffiti-like line drawings hovering disembodied on white canvasses. It was difficult at first to connect the complexity of the music to the images.
After listening more, some of the song/drawing pairings actually worked. In those cases, the song brought the drawing to life, giving a setting and a storyline to an otherwise unremarkable picture. In one, a bent figure (a self-portrait, judging by the round glasses—the only feature defining the face) appears to be in the middle of a failed skateboarding trick. The song gave the impression that he might also be in the middle of reflecting on some equally unsuccessful relationship maneuver. Another drawing is a crouched, headless figure pointing upward as though in an “Aha!” moment. The song and the cowering body together brought to mind an emotional place that is a turning point between despair and repair—the uncoil after the recoil.
Other drawings remained too disconnected to relate too, even with a soundtrack. Two images of the bolded number three were simply too impersonal to add anything to the music. A picture of a recently (and apparently unintentionally) decapitated duck was amusing, but not necessarily enlightening.
Overall, the drawings were entertaining, but no match for the music. Toro y Moi’s music is infectious, intricate and no doubt time consuming; while his drawings appeared to be quick work, at least in terms of execution. That being said, he can’t be faulted for giving his fans what they want: a window into the mind of the creator and master of his own musical sub-genre.
Toro y Moi shared his musical talent later in the night when he took stage for a DJ set. The dance floor was not nearly as lively as the beats warranted, but that can only be because the Sunday night crowd was in a more “art show” than “dance club” frame of mind. It was too bad, because the set was highly danceable, effortlessly mixed and perfectly tuned to that oh-so-Toro subdued yet energetic beat progression that it feels almost impossible to stand still to.
-Written by Meredith Erdman