Yves Tumor has spent a career fucking with us all.
Having been known as Sean Lee Bowie, Rahel Ali, Sean Bowie, even Shan Bowie. Who really knows for sure?
He has also released music under various guises, including Bekelé Berhanu, Shanti and TEAMS.
For the purpose of consistency, we’ll go with what it says on the tin: Yves Tumor.
Tumor has fast become the master of shedding skins. While his glorious 2018 album, Safe in the Hands of Love, was jam-packed with abrasive bass-oriented rage, through the latter part of touring on the back of this album, Tumor cobbled together a gypsy-like musical collective and that partnership continues on his latest offering, Heaven to a Tortured Mind.
Tumor and his merry band of bohemian street urchins have toned down that bass packed electronica and cranked it up to turbo for a full-on rock assault that spews with a fluorescent crash, embellishing us with beguiling collages of sound.
Lyrically, too, Tumor has departed from his previous defaults of anxious howls from the void, now posing as some deranged space-crooner, his subjects somewhere between love and lust, filling in these spaces with grotesque imagery.
The opening track, Gospel For a New Century begins the new chapter of Yves Tumor hysteria and in mind-blowing fashion. A wild collision between avant-garde and soul-pop that showers you in a debris of prickly brass lines and killer melodies, Medicine Burn is basically the demonisation of funk.
All told, it’s just a skin-flaying punk assault.
Identity Trade has you looking at the heavens and mistaking them for hell. A jumped-up glow-wave glam battering with a bruising duet between Tumor and Diana Gordon.
The riff is right out of the book of Mick Ronson, coming completely out of the left field and leaving you in that similar what-the-fuck? state of mind you have when listening to Roxy Music‘s In Every Dream Home A Heartache. It’s just that good.
Featuring a collaboration with Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming and Kelsey Lu, the streamlined soul of Romanticist demonstrates Tumor reaching for wider addressees. The audacity is admirable as it is accurate.
The David Bowie homage doesn’t let-up with Super Stars sounding like The Thin White Duke‘s long lost child sent from the gods, while closing number, A Greater Love, is an unconventionally beautiful offering filled with Tumor‘s ambient soul-boy charm.
No question, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is Tumor‘s attempt to “go for it”. A chameleon mutating past musical styles and unleashing them through feral juxtapositions of demented desires and rationalised love.
The backdrop is presented with an unhinged swagger, a filthy, furious noise of glammed-up soul punk. Had A.R. Kane stuck around a bit longer, they may well have tiptoed through these perilous paths.
That is history, though, and this is the future. Yves Tumor doesn’t just carry that burning torch. On Heaven to a Tortured Mind he flails it.
Heaven to a Tortured Mind is out now via Warp.