Toro Y Moi makes a sonic departure and a spiritual return on his new EP, Sandhills, which he released today. According to the story on the project’s Bandcamp page, the EP is a love letter to Toro’s South Carolina hometown, Columbia, which he recorded after making a pilgrimage to the locales of his past. Rather than the chillwave and synth-funk of his past projects, Sandhills is a folk-pop project marked by banjos and other homages to small-town Americana — without the weird politics. Here’s a quote from Toro’s Bandcamp:

Toro y Moi’s ‘Sandhills’ is both a tender love letter to Chaz Bear’s hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, and a poignant, bittersweet acceptance that one can never really go back home. Recalling Sufjan’s ‘Seven Swans’ or Karen O’s soundtrack work for ‘Where The Wild Things Are,’ these loping folk-pop songs are themselves a sort of Saturn return, reminiscent of Bear’s first handmade CD-Rs as Toro y Moi. Bear gave them out to friends in the earliest days of the moniker, the releases stuffed in the Case Logic visor of their cars, and each listen brings a little more of that detail to life: the mall after which ‘Sandhills’ is named; the teenaged friends spending aimless hours there, full of big ennui and bigger dreams; the late-capitalist decline and empty big box stores of Sandhills today.

The EP is also accompanied by a short film produced by Toro’s high school photography teacher, Katherine Perry, and directed by her husband Steve Daniels, who worked with Toro on a video for his high school band. The film also features his school’s football team and local artist Ernest Lee (aka Chicken Man), who also created the cover art. Sandhills follows Toro’s collaboration with SBTRKT, “Days Go By,” and his 2022 album Mahal, which spawned its own short film co-starring Eric Andre. Toro Y Moi is billed to appear at Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in LA in November.

Watch Toro Y Moi’s Sandhills short film up top (as of writing, it premieres in one hour) and get his EP here.