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"Toro y Moi’s seventh studio album, Mahal, is the boldest and most fascinating journey yet from musical mastermind Chaz Bear. The record spans genre and sound—encompassing the shaggy psychedelic rock of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the airy sounds of 1990s mod-post-rock—taking listeners on an auditory expedition, as if they’re riding in the back of Bear’s Filipino jeepney that adorns the album’s cover. But Mahal is also an unmistakably Toro y Moi experience, calling back to previous works while charting a new path forward in a way that only Bear can do.
Mahal is the latest in an accomplished career for Bear, who’s undoubtedly one of the decade’s most influential musicians. Since the release of the electronic pop landmark Causers of This in 2009, subsequent records as Toro y Moi have repeatedly shifted the idea of what his sound can be. But there’s little in Bear’s catalog that will prepare you for the deep-groove excursions on Mahal, his most eclectic record to date.
The second the album begins we’re immediately transported into the passenger seat, jeep sounds and all, ready for the ride Chaz and company have concocted for us. Seeds of some of Mahal’s 13 songs date back to the more explicitly rock-oriented What For? from 2015. Mahal was mostly completed last year in Bear’s Oakland studio with the involvement of a host of collaborators, Sofie Royer and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Neilson to Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo and the Mattson 2.