Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

Photo: Jordan Hemingway / Courtesy of biz3

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Heaven to a Tortured Mind
Yves Tumor


3 April 2020

When you consider the idea of linear artistic development, you very rarely find a musician moving from idiosyncratic noise artist to more conventional rock star. However, on new album, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, genre-straddling, multi-instrumentalist Yves Tumor revels in the persona of full-blown rock god.

Nevertheless, as you would expect from an artist who came to prominence with the warped ambient collages of Serpent Music, this reinvention is anything but ordinary. Heaven to a Tortured Mind is just as dizzyingly inventive, but it's also his most realized, song-driven album yet. Thankfully, that hasn't come at the expense of his experimental, avant-garde sensibilities. Throughout the album, songs frequently shift from big rock numbers and soulful funk jams to paranoid freakouts as he assaults melodies and slashes at hooks.

The phenomenal opener, "Gospel For a New Century", quickly overloads the senses with rumbling hip-hop bassline, shocked brass loops, and stuttering rhythms. Somehow Tumor manages to distill all these disparate elements into a deceptively straightforward indie song, reminiscent of early TV on the Radio's complete with a chorus that leaves a lasting impression like a deep, purple bruise.

"Medicine Burn" begins with a heady rush of guitars, quickly pacified by a hypnotic, twisting, funk bassline. It's an unpredictable listen as it veers from stuttering groove to moments of intense noise like a stray, writhing electrical cable. Throughout the album, it's the rhythm section that grounds the songs. On "Identity Trade", the bassline goes for the funk jugular while off-kilter drum loops, prise open the arteries.

"Kerosene!" finds Tumor taking on the role of seducer ("I can be your lover, little baby") on a song so erotically charged it should come with a bucket of iced water. Featuring Diana Gorden, it plays like an age-old tale of two lovers caught in the destructive gravitational pull of a doomed romance -- all over soaring Prince-Esque guitar licks that amplify carnal desires.

Constructed from backward loops, warped instrumentation, and pitched electronics, "Hasdallen Lights" feels like a song made in reverse, while "Romanticist" rests on a more straightforward R&B grove, albeit with sudden blasts of spiky guitar. Just as it ignites, it's suddenly snuffed out, morphing into the skewed art-rock of "Dream Palette", with both tracks featuring inspired turns from Sunflower Bean's Julia Cummings and Kelsey Lu who add a little punk gristle.

"Super Stars" plays out as a soulful R&B jam that's being subject to electric shock treatment. The longer the song runs, the more Tumor opens up deep sonic cracks as he willfully sabotages the mood. Considering the title refers to a delusional belief imposed on another, "Folie Imposée" is suitably unsettling. Like a tour of a fragmented mind, it's an unnerving listen filled with paranoia and existential dread. Bolted together from shards of noise and swirling electronics all underpinned by cavernous layers of droning synths, it slowly draws itself in, like a sheet of paper being gradually scrunched up into a tight ball.

On "Strawberry Privilege", Tumor marries a taut, soulful groove to experimental electronic collages. Again, it's the bass that provides the anchor, allowing Tumor to sail off wherever the breeze takes him. The same is true of driving instrumental, "Asteroid Blues", with distorted vocal loops and shrieking electronics circling a funk bassline.

Album closer "A Greater Love" ends the album on a silky smooth note. After what has come before, it's like finishing an eclectic meal with a limited edition Beaujolais. With creamy analog synths, female vocal harmonies, and more Prince-esque guitar licks, it's a gorgeously inviting ending to an album that so often keeps the listener at arm's length.

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor clearly relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Whereas on previous albums, he would obscure himself behind the music, here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.