The earliest releases of Yves Tumor—the producer born Sean Bowie in Florida, raised in Tennessee and based in Turin—arrived from a land beyond genre. They intermingled ambient synths and disembodied Kylie samples with free jazz, soul and the crunch of experimental club beats. By 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love, Tumor had effectively become a genre of one, moulding funk and indie into an uncanny strain of post-everything art music. Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Tumor’s fourth LP, is their most remarkable transformation yet. They have sharpened their focus, sanded down the rough edges and stepped boldly forward with an avant-pop opus that puts equal weight on both halves of that equation.
“Gospel for a New Century” opens the album like a shot across the bow, the kind of high-intensity funk geared more to filling stadiums than clubs. Its blazing horns and electric bass are a reminder of Tumor’s Southern roots, but just as we’ve gotten used to the idea of them as spiritual kin to Outkast, they follow up with “Medicine Burn”, a swirling fusion of shoegaze and grunge. The album just keeps shape-shifting like that, drawing from classic soul and diverse strains of alternative rock, and Tumor is an equally mercurial presence—sometimes bellowing, other times whispering in a falsetto croon. But despite the throwback inspirations, the record never sounds retro. Its powerful rhythm section anchors the music in a future we never saw coming. These are not the sullen rhythmic abstractions of Tumor's early years; they’re larger-than-life anthems that sound like the product of some strange alchemical process. Confirming the magnitude of Tumor’s creative vision, this is the new sound that a new decade deserves.