Yves Tumor

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
When Man Fails You (2015), 5/10
Serpent Music (2016), 7/10
Experiencing the Deposit of Faith (2017), 4.5/10
Safe in the Hands of Love (2018), 6.5/10
Heaven to a Tortured Mind (2020), 5/10

Yves Tumor, the project of German-based US-born producer Sean Bowie, began experimenting with samples and loops on When Man Fails You (2015), trying to assemble autonomous sonic creatures out of disembodied sounds. The simplistic results mostly failed to cohere and can be truly tedious, but the ominous symphonic sketch of Body As Wilhelm, the strident dissonance of When Man Fails You, the shrieking animals of Porto-Novo, and the orchestral chillwave of Blood & Innocence laid the foundations for what came next.

Serpent Music (PAN, 2016) used the technique of the sound collage to create evocative and emotional music. Past the spirited minimalist repetition of Dajjal, Role In Creation sounds like an African version of Jon Hassell's Vernal Equinox or or a chillwave version of David Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Serpent I indulges in industrial cacophony worthy of Z'ev, while Serpent II is an expressionist psychodrama. A sweet Indian chant rises with a gently plucked harp from field recordings of natural sounds in Spirit In Prison. The eight-minute Perdition contaminates aquatic noises with a nostalgic Nino Rota-esque violin melody and a convent choir. The emotional center of the album is Seed, a lugubrious industrial dance disfigured by harsh distortions, resembling a subway train that brakes inside a tunnel. These are all "artificial" songs, songs composed of samples, found sounds, field recordings, but their artificial life is no less emotional than the life of much ambient and industrial music.

The subtlety and mastery of that work don't show up on Experiencing the Deposit of Faith (2017), a much more trivial album. Ayxita Wake Up mixes minimalist repetition and dreamy female invocations, E Eternal a John Fahey-ian guitar invention and a monk's choir. AfricaAshes is a sort of disco shuffle, and Love Is The Law a mournful jazz elegy. The only piece that rises above mediocrity is Prosperity Awareness, cloaked in atmospheric distortions and fireworks until a street trumpeter intones the Beatles' Yesterday. But Yves Tumor fails to set in motion interesting fragments such as Child Of Rage and Paigon Hunting. Too many of these "songs" are insults to the intelligence of the listener.

Yves Tumor the producer was replaced by Yves Tumor the multi-instrumentalist (and crooner) on Safe in the Hands of Love (2018), an album that basically launched a new career. The industrial soul ballad Economy of Freedom still exhibits the dangerous edges of Serpent Music, but the cubistic dance jam Honesty and the screaming breakbeat-pop Noid descend progressively into the traditional song format, and soon we are exposed to the ordinary tedious dance-pop muzak of Licking an Orchid (a duet with a female vocalist). Luckily, Lifetime recovers some of the schizoid energy of 2016 and adds dilated jazz horns, leading to the explosive tragic noise of Hope in Suffering (alas, ruined by the rapping). The spectral declamation of Recognizing the Enemy (the second standout) collides with the chaotic accompaniment of cello and tom-toms, and the album ends in overdrive with the drunk singalong crucified in the wall of noise of Let the Lioness in You Flow Freely.

He adopted psychedelic soul as his new career on Heaven to a Tortured Mind (2020). Despite the bombastic production, Gospel for a New Century is little more than a Prince imitation, and Hasdallen Lights is Michael Jackson fronting a symphony orchestra. Songs like Medicine Burn and Romanticist are confused and amateurish. Dream Palette packs a good amount of visceral energy but wastes it, and the instrumental Asteroid Blues begins promising but then goes nowhere (nonetheless it is possibly the standout). The hit was Kerosene an embarrassing neosoul ballad with a Jimi Hendrix-ian guitar.

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