Pushing the confines of genre to its edge
Jemima Skala
14:17 30th March 2020

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In the digital age, we’re granted almost instant access to everything there is to know about everyone. In the face of information overload, Yves Tumor remains one of music’s last true enigmas. 

They have always done exactly as they please and refuse to explain themselves to anyone. From their ambient experimental beginnings with their debut album When Man Fails You, Tumor has since experimented with pushing the boundaries of pop with 2018’s Safe In The Hands Of Love. 

Heaven To A Tortured Mind is the latest offering, and Tumor has morphed again. This time they’ve become an intimidating, demented, sexually charged 70s-esque rock god. From their live shows, this isn’t such a surprising pivot. Tumor stands on stage in flares and a tight top, sometimes alone with a laptop and sometimes with a full band, screaming down the mic and dancing as if in their own world. On the album, their stage presence is translated into tight guitar riffs, loose beats and yards of feedback that have you spiralling down a time warp into the world of Yves Tumor.

Tumor, aka Sean Bowie, draws many influences together under the banner of indie rock, pushing each element to the edge of taste to challenge his listeners. ‘Medicine Burn’ is a swirling psychedelic rock anthem that scoops you up in its fuzzy guitar and drops you somewhere unrecognisable. ‘Romanticist’ and ‘Dream Palette’ run into each other like an epic 70s B-side, and the wounded howl on the latter imbues it with the drama of hair rock. 

‘Super Stars’ is the key to understanding Heaven To A Tortured Mind. Towards the end of the album, it’s a woozy, drugged-up whirlpool of a song. It’s what Unknown Mortal Orchestra might produce if they’d spent days taking hallucinogens and not sleeping. Murky and sinister, it explains Tumor’s fascination with the iconography of rock 'n' roll, as well as their tumultuous emotional landscape.

Heaven To A Tortured Mind is one of the best rock albums to have been released in recent years. Dark and scary, it pushes the confines of genre to its edge, willing its listeners to fall into its untold depths. 

Heaven To A Tortured Mind is released on 3 April 2020 via Warp.

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