Album Reviews

Album Review: Yves Tumor- Heaven To A Tortured Mind (Warp)

Sam Smith

In what has become one of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2020, experimental electronic musician Yves Tumor has returned after two years with an album that confirms his status as the number one shapeshifter of alternative and electronic music.

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Image: Vitali Gelwich

Titled Heaven to a Tortured Mind, American producer Sean Bowie recording under his alias has delivered an album that is impossible to pin down stylistically, something that can be a reviewer’s worst nightmare when it comes to describing the music on display.

Spurred on by the quality of the two singles Gospel For A New Century and the Prince-esque Kerosene! (the latter which is one of the songs of the year so far), Heaven to a Tortured Mind is a classic example of the genre-less world we are fast moving towards where ideas of staying grounded by style and genre is going out the window.

You cannot really box this album into one particular style as Yves Tumor moves all over the place here, even within individual songs. Tumor cites Throbbing Gristle as an influence and I can definitely see this on this record given how the music flows in all sorts of directions stylistically and sonically.

You have the experimental rock and electronic noise on the likes of Medicine Burn and Identity Trade, while Bowie also has time to take it down a notch and get into the soul sphere on Super Stars and album closer, the gorgeous A Greater Love.

Amidst all the experimentation and genre-bending, however, Yves Tumor does maintain the ability to write a catchy hook as shown on the short sharp but effective Romanticist and the edgy stomper Dream Palette, something that will very much please the pop crowd amongst his fans.

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Image: Jordan Hemingway

Under the guise of the experimentation, there is a songwriter there, and that definitely stood out across the record. Producers can get too caught up in the task of producing to worry too much about songwriting. Not Yves Tumor, for him, the two fields are equally as important and that was showcased throughout this album with no inch given to either.

Bowie has been making music as Yves Tumor for around ten years and this is his fourth studio album under this moniker. With each album, he continues to evolve and push the boundaries of what is possible with sound, not willing to be labelled and definitely not willing to stay in a particular stylistic lane.

All up, this makes for music which is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to as you never know what is around the corner from track to track, even if you are not quite sure what exactly it is you are listening to.

Heaven to a Tortured Mind available to purchase directly from Warp Records.

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.