Yves Tumor – Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Yves Tumor

2020 – Experimental / Rock

Warp


There is a paradise in Heaven to a Tortured Mind, in which we find love and sex, happiness and sadness, but above all, an incredible sound and experience


At the age of 17, Sean Bowie had the desire to escape monotone and conservative environments. For that, he used music as a key to the door that would lead to a new ideal world. In his first project, When Man Fails You, he used almost no voices, but rather dreamy sounds ranging from calm and harmonious guitars to disturbed synthesizers that seemed inexplicable. In 2016, his album Serpent Music, which took three years to produce and structure, arrived as an eccentric collage of spiritual feelings with a psychedelic sensuality. In 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love, Bowie surpassed expectations putting the sound he had been developing for years together with influences from pop, disco and beat-music. Now in 2020, Tumor returns with Heaven to a Tortured Mind, an album that mixes everything he has created in an intriguingly cohesive and homogeneous way.

It is undeniable that Yves Tumor’s songs sound like a fascinating, intriguing and spiritual dream that causes confusion and admiration at the same time. And Heaven to a Tortured Mind is no different. In a subtle way, Bowie managed to mix different instruments, such as high-pitched pianos and heavy guitars, and genres, such as experimental soul and generic pop. The most amazing thing is how everything seems to work within this exotic dream that Bowie created. From the vocal performance of all project participants to the way in which the tracks are structured, everything sounds in an almost perfect way that makes the listener, with the passing of the tracks, feel more and more attracted by this atmospheric force that the album creates.

He starts the album by saying: “I think I can solve it / I can be your all, ain’t no problem, baby / You can be more but you’re heartless”. “Gospel for a New Century” is a grandiose track that mixes basses, matte drums, guitars and trombones while talking about how he is willing to move on after his lover leaves him when he needed it most, though he still wants her, “You know I’m out of my mind, girl”. This track is a stripped-down mix of R&B with Pop, Soul and even parade music, which sounds catchy and smart, especially in choruses where we have this perfect combination of trombones with Yves’ voice and vocal backing that seem to create this beautiful and charming parade in our heads. The only negative thing about this song ended up being the beginning of the track that has these instrumental breaks that, despite being creative, didn’t end up sounding so good. But even with this negative point right at the beginning of the first track, it doesn’t really make you feel discouraged about the album, but it does make you feel more curious about what comes next.

And unlike many albums, in which collaborations are not part of the collection of the best tracks, here is the opposite. “Kerosene!” is the longest track on the album with 5 minutes long, but at no time did it seem that long. Along with Diana Gordon, Yves created a track that has an incredibly magical atmosphere. In the beginning, a piano, sober beats and mysterious synthesizers prepare the audience for the show that is the conversation between Gordon and Tumor: a subtle mixture that of both voices stating that each could be what the other needs. The best moments of the track are the guitars in the middle that sound crazy and Diana’s vocals that sound so unique, beautiful and charming with this performance that seems to come out of her soul. And even with the lyric that is pretty simple, everything else ended up paying off. “Romanticist” is also a great piece on this album with instrumentals who know when to act calm and subtle and when to act in a confused and aggressive way. However, the most amazing thing is how subtle is the transition to the next track, “Dream Palette” (a collaboration with Julia Cumming), which happens in such a smooth way that I barely realized it was not the same song anymore. In this track, Cumming and Tumor mix fireworks, bands, drums and remixed guitars while questioning themselves with strong vocals: “Our hearts are in danger / Tell me, is this confidential love?”.

And as I said, Yves Tumor’s albums have all this atmosphere and feeling of being in a dream. The track “Strawberry Privilege” with Julia Cumming takes it to another level with these soft vocals saying “pa-pam-pam-pam”, which together with the vocals of Yves and Julia and the instrumental, which seems to be something coming straight from a movie, create this whole feeling of being inside a fascinating dream. “A Greater Love”, with Hirakish and Clara Le San, ends up being an incredible completion for the album. In it, they say: “I said, don’t you ever feel that the weather has changed? Yeah, change” alongside this mix of modern jazz with R&B and New-Soul that just sounds incredible. “Super Stars” reminded me a little of “Redbone” by Childish Gambino with those very high voices. The track is a declaration to his beloved promising to love her as no one will ever go, because after all, when he is with her it is as if they were in a star. Meanwhile, “Hasdallen Lights” talks about facing your fears and desires while mixing crazy synthesizers with a classic beat. Although the lyrics are repetitive, the track is very nice to hear.

And even in the midst of these incredible tracks, there were some that were not as catchy. “Medicine Burn” is very aggressive, both in vocals that scream and transmit bloody images (“Life of blasphemy, the room full of kings’ severed heads”), and in instrumentals, which have these guitars and synthesizers that scream in a disorderly and troubled. The track is very fascinating with all this production, especially at the end with this guitar solo, but it is not such a memorable track. “Identity Trade” has a very limited lyrics, and although the sound is very interesting with this stripped sound of soul with R&B, it ends up being a little boring. “Folie Imposée” ends up being quite irrelevant, both for the lyrics that seem to be silly next to the others, and for the sound with those broken beats that didn’t really please. “Asteroid Blues” is an instrumental track that, even with these intense moments, the music sounds a little monotone. But even with these defects, these songs are good.

I must confess that Heaven to a Tortured Mind impressed me more than I thought it would. The album is extremely cohesive, even when mixing things that seem “immixable”. The lyrics are very well structured, and with the help of vocals, which are also speechless, Yves managed to create beautiful and intelligent sound games of words, expressions and dictations. The instrumental is phenomenal, both in the simple moments (which are not so simple) where we only have guitars and drums, as in the complexes where there are mixtures of fireworks with bands from the 4th of July parade. In the end, Heaven to a Tortured Mind is just incredible.


LISTEN ON: Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal


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