Yves Tumor

Oh boy. Do I have a doozy for y’all.

I got home from indulging in that sacred April holiday that holds a special place in our hearts and lungs. I decided that the best way to end the holiday was with some music.

The Spotify homepage shows me all of my old friends… except for this weird ass fucking image in the spot where they suggest you shit based on what you like.

I am greeted by what looks like Idris Elba’s character in Cats if he really liked meth… and satan. Most people would probably be put off and spend another 3 minutes desperately convincing themselves to like @ meh. Which is ass, by the way.

I’m obviously fucked up and decided to listen to this weird demonic furry. And lo and behold I wound up uncovering a gem of an artist.

Describing them is genuinely a difficult undertaking. To illustrate that, here are some pictures. FROM FUCKING SPOTIFY. The same app your little sister listens to Shawn Mendes on:

If I were a seasoned and talented music writer, I would describe how the visually off-putting aesthetic encapsulates their sound—which is a raucous cacophony—thus rendering the listener with a more cohesive visual and auditory experience.

But I am just a guy. So here is my best attempt to describe what this aesthetic makes my brain see:

Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro (think Pan’s Labyrinth, not the Hobbit) walk into a bar. They start talking about what it would be like if Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange met up with Derek Zoolander and they went to Wonderland and met the Cheshire Cat and took copious psychedelics together. And Charles Manson and Roy Batty are there because fuck it why not?

Alright, enough jokes. Allow me to introduce you to Yves Tumor.

Before manifesting into my sleep paralysis demon, Yves Tumor was just known as Sean Bowie. At least I think so. Because they are such an enigma that there are multiple accounts of their real birth name. Seriously. Also, where are they based out of? UNKNOWN. If you want to get an idea of how mysterious Yves is, check out this amazing interview with Pitchfork.

What I have surmised about Tumor’s elusive past is that they were born in Miami (305, dale) but grew up primarily in Knoxville, Tennessee. They began learning to play instruments at the age of 17 by teaching themself songs by artists such as Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix on the guitar and bass. Due to bad grades, Tumor got their instrument privileges revoked, and was left with nothing but the family piano. After learning to tickle the ivories, Yves focused on keyboards, leading them to electronic music.

Following a stint in the experimental LA electronic scene, Yves Tumor would go on to make electronic music under a series of monikers, touring Europe and Asia for a couple of years. By 2015, our friendly neighborhood demonic feline creature would finally choose the name Yves Tumor.

Album cover for When Man Fails You, very Yves Tumor if you ask me.

Yves Tumor’s first album was released independently in 2016 and was titled When Man Fails You. The album is almost entirely instrumental, with rare instances of eerie voices in the background. The tracks can stem from a dreamlike reverie to some horrific fucking nightmarish shit. I’m a fan of Body as Willhelm. It would fit perfectly as the score in a horror film.

Tumor would then put out Serpent Music with PAN Records in 2016 and Experiencing the Deposit of Faith independently in 2017. Both projects seem far more streamlined, fusing elements of Tumor’s Knoxville bass roots with their more morose electronics. There are also hints of vocals among the instrumentals, which almost serve as an added instrument in and of itself. Serpent Music is intended to follow a dystopian narrative and I think the sound hits its mark. To sum up these projects: nightmarish fusions of soul, electronic, and psychedelic rock with moments of levity. Serpent Music has some great bass riffs and ETDOF has some funky tracks to dance to.

This finally brings us to the stage of Yves Tumor’s career where his vocals take the forefront and that weird ass fucking cat picture emerged: Safe in the Hands of Love, Tumor’s 2018 Warp Records debut.

Wow. A major shift from his previous projects. To be clear, each project is a shift from the last, but this seems a leap. And it’s a leap I fucking love. Gone are the days of Tumor’s voice merely accompanying his discordant electronic music. Now both elements are blended, resulting in a project that can equally send you down a neon-tinged electronic nightmares such as Economy of Freedom- Croatian Armor or a funky alternative rock sound unlike any you have heard before like Noid. There’s a fucking song that starts with a swarm of bees.

Bonus: I think Lifetime is a perfect quarantine track.

The project is eclectic in the best sense possible. Tumor’s second label debut reveals the artist’s versatility, a talented vocalist with an ear for production, and a haunted mind results in chaotic musical concoctions, unlike anything I’ve heard. Truly a fucking experience.

Now that I’ve got the discography out of the way and am already over my word count (sorry Jose) (it’s ok -jose) I can finally delve into the deviant rockstar persona Yves Tumor presents themself with.

Before we get into the look, I want to talk about the performances. I’ve never been to one, though that is a mistake I intend to rectify. Seriously, watch one on Youtube. Shit is crazy.

They deliberately find the biggest person in the crowd and hang off their shoulders performing upside down hanging from the spectator’s neck… (which kind of concerns me. I want to go to a show but I’m 6 feet. Well, medical professionals say 5 feet 11 inches and 3 quarters. I say work on finding a cure for Corona, not sizing me up)* Also, at their last pre-Corona show, someone bit their neck while they autographed a record just to taste them… which is fucking weird.

*We love you medical professionals thank you for everything you do :)… but I’m 6 fucking feet, capiche?

Last but not least I’ve got to get into the look… why the strange makeup, nightmarish costumes, and bizarre style? Honestly I’ve tried looking for one solid answer. Honestly could not really find one. Which I guess is a cop out, but we don’t even know Yves Tumor’s real name. I’m an amateur music writer not a fucking detective. I tried reading interviews and the answers are just frustrating and cryptic.

At first, I was kind of tight. Then I figured that I kind of like the ambiguity. Yves Tumor, as an artist, is unlike any I’ve ever encountered. I mean this in the holistic sense, the persona, the sound, the look… maybe I’m not supposed to be able to come up with an easy answer as to why Yves Tumor dressed like Hermoine from that one scene where she turns into a cat. Does anyone else remember that? Shit was weird. Anyways, who knows why Yves Tumor does what they do? Only Yves Tumor, if I had to guess.

Oh no… this amazing article about this absolutely batty artist has ended… and the writer was just so enjoyable… now I have to go back to drowning in existential quarantine dread…

Fear not, dear reader. This one is a two-parter… you only read the prequel numb nuts. Onwards, to the album review!

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