Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2 - Star Stuff - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2 - Star Stuff

by Jason Atkinson Rating:7 Release Date:2017-03-31

Chaz Bundick, the South Carolinian behind the venerable group Toro y Moi, has released a side project with the Mattson 2. Everybody get off Facebook and take notice. “Star Stuff,” the Carl Sagan-inspired tune that centres this album is quite good, that much is evident. The vocal work has personality, with echoes of Bitch Magnet/Seam indie hero Sooyoung Park. The Mattson 2, Bundick’s co-conspirators, lay it down heartily. It’s all—

Wait. I’m distracted. The music video. Let’s talk for a moment about the music video. Forgive me, but I have to. This video—it’s blinding me. I mean, my God, man. My. God. How much did this thing cost to make? 70’s style Kojak/Starsky and Hutch camera work. Stylised lighting in a bowling alley. Dolly shots. A RED (possibly) camera shooting 4K footage. Lots of paid extras staring intently into this camera while wearing period clothing. Grips and Gaffers. 

At one point in the video, they park a Ford Mustang in a studio so a dude can stand next to it and hold a bowling ball designed like an eyeball. Holy studio rental, batman! One can’t help but think: is the song even worthy of all this? I can’t even hear the song for this video. It begs the question: how on earth do musicians, considering the cost of making a record and promoting, expect to recoup when such outlandish expenditures are undertaken? Alas, this critic can only wonder. 

Back to the album.

Star Stuff seems to bounce back and forth between Mattson 2 driven songs and Chaz Bundick songs. Like, the first tune. It’s more of a jam-out tune, two dudes on guitar. A little crunch, a little panning. Some sound effects. Then, we have “A Search,” which sounds a bit like Pat Metheny if Metheny smoked drugs. “JBS” is more of the same, except halfway through Bundick starts singing, showing off his unique voice and taking us through a song. His voice is a thing of beauty: sometimes confident, sometimes tentative—I enjoyed hearing it and would have been totally cool with skipping the three-minute jam intro. But that’s just me. 

Later, we have “Steve Pink,” which is another good instrumental track; however, I have to say that I find myself disengaging a bit here. This album doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Am I an album of extended jams? Am I a songwriting album? Am I a jazz album. You know: I don’t know. I have no idea. And maybe I don’t care, which is totally cool, too.  

“Disco Kid” is a great track although I kept wanting to hear Bundick come in here with some vocals. Then, “Don’t Blame Yourself,” which finds a better balance, mixing the jazz jams with Bundick’s voice. I like it. 

These are talented players and songwriters, no question. Gifted. But I have to ask myself why it is necessary for the group to package all of this mismatched musical material as an album. Especially considering how much emphasis is placed on the songwriter-driven tune “Star Stuff” as an uber music video/promotional vehicle. At the very least, make an expensive video for one of the jam tunes, too. It's only fair. 

Anyway, make sure to stream this bad boy the next time you're inside the Ford Mustang you bought with Daddy's money. 

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