Yves Tumor - Heaven to a Tortured Mind Music Album Reviews

The iconoclastic artist moves to a plush and magisterial kind of rock music for a gratifying and intense record, one whose pleasures are viscerally immediate. 

Yves Tumor plays a sex god on their latest album, a carnal rock record called Heaven to a Tortured Mind. If you were only familiar with the experimental ambient and noise Tumor was making just four years ago, this might sound unlikely. But transformations and roleplaying are key to understanding why Tumor is among the most interesting artists working today. Genre-bending is an inadequate rubric for describing what makes Tumor’s sound so enticing; with each new record, they seem to embody a genre—its history, its texture, its tropes. The mutations and evolutions across their work are something closer to method acting.

Every gesture or affect on display across Tumor’s previous albums represents an engrossing performance of whatever genre they’re studying at the moment. When Tumor became a darling of the experimental scene following 2016’s Serpent Music, they looked the part of a confrontational noise and ambient artist: decked out in chains, cowboy hats, and flowing robes. Their sound matched—a mix of influences that found common cause with the likes of Laraaji, William Basinski, and Dean Blunt. Then came 2018’s auteurist pop masterpiece Safe in the Hands of Love, Tumor’s most successful project to date, which transformed them into a charismatic bandleader and howling vocalist.

When I saw them on that album’s tour, I was struck by the metamorphosis of Yves Tumor, dressed in a crushed velvet suit and flowing white blouson, carried themselves like the wayward son of Prince, bounding across the stage as explosions of percussion and guitar rattled behind them. The ardor of the performance demystified at least one mystery about this artist: Yves Tumor’s next project was learning to be a rock star. And with the glorious sonic smut we find on Heaven to a Tortured Mind, we get a sense for the very kind of star Tumor wants to be known as.

While Heaven to a Tortured Mind, like past Yves Tumor records, is a collage of styles (there’s glam, psych rock, krautrock, Britpop, soul, and noise here), a distinct personality emerges—that of Yves the seducer. This plush and magisterial kind of rock—heavy on imperial horns and crashing drums and bodacious guitar solos—evokes the sensuousness of suede and cigarette smoke, conjuring an atmosphere of total, decadent vice. With its hellish brass instruments and prowling basslines, the album’s doozy of an opener, “Gospel for a New Century,” is a perfect distillation. Amid the indulgence, Tumor’s voice becomes a thing of beauty: A raspy, sometimes guttural instrument that howls of love, loss, and damnation. It suggests a time when rock music felt forbidden—played backwards on turntables to reveal messages from sexy heretics.

Tumor is fascinated with blending disgust and pleasure, beauty and abjection. On “Medicine Burn,” they strike an unholy balance between gory imagery (“Severed heads on the mental guillotine/Life of blasphemy a room full of kings”) and a buoyant, bouncing vocal performance. A similar tension underlies “Identity Trade,” where the wonderfully schmaltzy squawk of what sounds like a clarinet accompanies a tale of murderous desire (“I saw my first lover clutching a dagger sunk beneath the water”). The study in contrast that’s been a motif of Tumor’s work from the start is magnified, given the swagger and attitude of music you would hear in a stadium. “Kerosene!”, a lovely and bracing duet with the singer Diana Gordon, builds to a towering, speaker-shattering guitar solo; the two-part “Romanticist/Dream Palette”—a collaboration with Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cummings and Kelsey Lu—swirls the voices together around pummeling drums and dueling guitars. These are not songs for the ascetic within us; this is music meant only for reverie.

In that way, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is the most straightforward record in Tumor’s catalog. It’s an album with commercial, or at least mass, appeal in mind. And it seems to confirm something Tumor hinted at in a 2016 interview about their musical aspirations: “I only want to make hits. What else would I want to make?” The product of this ambition is a gratifying and intense record, one whose pleasures are viscerally immediate. Above all, it’s loads of fun to watch Tumor don the guise of a devilish rockstar. It’s not exactly a new archetype in our cultural imagination, but the ravishing delight Tumor brings to this character is what makes their music so affecting. Yves is a performer whose roles, played with the utmost rigor, always find a way to linger in the memory.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Yves Tumor - Heaven to a Tortured Mind Music Album Reviews Yves Tumor - Heaven to a Tortured Mind Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, April 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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