Heaven To A Tortured Mind: a year with Yves Tumor

It seems apt that Heaven To A Tortured Mind should have been released just over a year ago. In that time, the world has had to come to terms with the fractured realities of COVID, each of us searching for a way through the rugged landscapes of inequity, vaccine nationalism, and government incompetence. Tortured minds, indeed. We were, and are, in need of some sanctuary.

Though sanctuary may not be the best description of Yves Tumor’s fourth album; purgatory, perhaps? This album creates an eccentric sound that does not fit into a single genre. Instead, it is shaped by a clash of symbols, cymbals, and a seemingly ever-present bass guitar.

Despite temptation, Tumor does not fall prey to taking themselves too seriously (that’s the critic’s job). Playfully poking its head up in the wobbling and fractured world of ‘Medicine Burn’, for example, is a soft and fluid keyboard melody, like finding a lava lamp in a “room full of kings’ severed heads”; we’ve all been there. Or, in the music video for ‘Gospel For A New Century’ we find Tumor’s twisted but seductive performance as the devil set to the rhythm of a slick and in-control bassline – Lil Nas X eat your heart out (‘no, literally’ I hear Tumor’s devil implore).

Heaven To A Tortured Mind reaches its peak in ‘Kerosene!’ where the taut voice of Diana Gordon is stretched and pulled, acting as the perfect canvas for Tumor to move between shades of light and dark with refreshing guitar riffs set against crashing percussion. In an interview with Pitchfork, Tumor admitted to wanting to make hits that people would “need to play over and over and over and over again” and in ‘Kerosene!’ we find just such a hit.

This album offers neither cure nor remedy to the ongoing turmoil in which we find ourselves. Instead, it creates an introspective space where, despite the sorrow and anxiety, joy may still be found. I, for one, will be continuing to listen to Heaven To A Tortured Mind long after these bleak months, over and over and over and over again.You can listen to Heaven To A Tortured Mind on Spotify here.

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Troy Fielder

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August 2021
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