Album Review: Safe In The Hands Of Love by Yves Tumor
Exceptionally Good, Based on 5 Critics
Tiny Mix Tapes - 90 Based on rating 4.5/5
Part of what’s made Sean Bowie’s music so captivating over his many scattered projects is that he’s never seemed to put too much stock into being any one kind of artist. Sure, he’s all about that shadowy “who is he?” ambiguity that us critics just can’t ever seem to get enough of, but as Safe in the Hands of Love proves, even he’s willing to cast off the dark shroud of mystery around his work if it means that it’ll set him free. Despite all the disturbing imagery that’s accompanied his debut release for Warp, Yves Tumor’s latest record is shockingly accessible, a huge, explosive rush of song and sound as layered and textured as it is pure and simple.
In an interview from a couple of years ago just before the release of his debut, Serpent Music, Sean Bowie (one of many names Yves Tumor goes by) spoke about how he never consciously tries to make music that sounds harsh or noisy, but how the final result comes from translating different moods. Released on the PAN music label, it was an album made from contradicting moods and brash, confrontational, evocative, and sometimes vulnerable pieces that could be difficult to process at times. Two years later and now signed to Warp, his surprise album Safe in the Hands of Love is no less challenging or experimental: 'Let the Lioness in You Flow Freely' is propelled by a sputtering drum machine and bursts of white noise that pushes everything into the red; 'Hope in Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness)' is an unsettling dystopian monologue, and on the comparatively minimal 'Economy of Freedom', Tumor sings from behind lethargic trap-flavored beats and swelling static-y synths in a haunting echo.
I moved to Los Angeles just before 2012, midway through a mass arrival of young, creative types priced out of New York and San Francisco, or simply trying to escape the Midwest. I partied in old banks in Hollywood, caught weird experimental shows and techno DJs in warehouses, and saw Dean Blunt and James Ferraro improvise an impenetrable set of "cocktail jazz" to a none-the-wiser crowd of showbiz types at Soho House. Back then, I would often see Sean Bowie, then known as Teams, in these settings.
Yves Tumor's third release and Warp Records debut is hard to describe, as it seems to play tricks with the listener's expectations. On the pre-released track Noid, for example, the focus seems to be on songwriting as a rockish groove accompanies a verse-chorus structure, ominous lyrics and a string sample that is later supplanted by darker textures. But other tracks eschew that convention completely, such as the Arca-influenced Economy Of Freedom, which is in the vein of experimental electronic music, and the chaotic monologue of Hope In Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness), which is far more avant-garde than that.
Evolving from the coarse, engulfing experimentalism that defined his 2016 PAN LP Serpent Music and mixtapes When Man Fails You and Experiencing The Deposit Of Faith, Yves Tumor drags away the dense sonic shroud. Here, the enigmatic producer, multi-instrumentalist and performer is exposed, assured ….