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Yves Tumor

Shifting from haunting ambient collages, hallucinogenic soul, dazzling rock, and more in a fluid, surrealist manner, Yves Tumor is an unparalleled musical chameleon. The experimental roots they established on early releases for labels like Dog Food served them well on albums such as 2016's spiritual, sensual Serpent Music, which highlighted the R&B and psychedelic elements of their music in its dreamlike flow. Tumor's style grew more structured and immediate on 2018's Brit-pop- and '90s alt-rock-influenced Safe in the Hands of Love, yet it still avoided easy classification. As Tumor brought more clarity and concision to 2020's Heaven to a Tortured Mind and 2023's Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), it only heightened the kaleidoscopic surprises within their music. Born and raised in Tennessee, Sean Bowie taught themself to play several musical instruments as a teenager. They started with bass at age 17, then moved on to acoustic and electric guitar and keyboard. After learning how to play songs by Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Led Zeppelin, they began making electronic music that had a significant element of noise, thanks to Bowie recording directly into the computer's built-in microphone. By the time Bowie was 20, they'd moved to California. Claiming Throbbing Gristle as a major influence, they became part of Los Angeles' experimental music scene. Their post-chillwave work as Teams earned praise from the blogosphere, and Bowie collaborated with artists such as Star Slinger, James Ferraro, and Jónó Mí Ló. They met experimental hip-hop artist Mykki Blanco in 2012, later touring with her and becoming affiliated with her Dog Food label. After moving to Europe, Bowie began working on more personal, spiritual material as Yves Tumor. The project debuted in 2015 with appearances on NON Worldwide Compilation, Vol. 1 and Mykki Blanco Presents C-ORE, as well the self-released full-length When Man Fails You, which Apothecary Compositions issued on cassette in 2016. That year also saw the release of Serpent Music, an impressionistic collage heavily influenced by the Motown and soul music Bowie's father played while they were growing up. Three years in the making, the album was issued by Bill Kouligas' Pan label to critical acclaim. Tumor had another busy year in 2017. Along with contributing the track "Limerence" to Pan's 2017 compilation Mono No Aware, that September they self-released the drifting Experiencing the Deposit of Faith online and signed to Warp. Before the end of the year, their remix of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "ZURE" was released. Tumor's first album for Warp, September 2018's Safe in the Hands of Love, embraced everything from '90s alt-rock to noise. Featuring collaborations with Oxhy, Puce Mary, and Croatian Armor, the album earned rave reviews for its audacious sounds. That year, Tumor remixed Alice Glass' "The Altar," and in 2019, they released the single "Applaud," a collaboration with Hirakish, Napolian, and ANTHEM. On April 2020's guitar-driven Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Tumor worked with co-producer Justin Raisen and vocalists Diana Gordon, Kelsey Lu, and Sunflower Bean's Julia Cumming. Folding elements of psych-rock and vintage soul into Tumor's sound, the album was another critical triumph and landed on many publications' year-end lists. That year, Tumor also appeared on Joji's album Nectar and issued the single "let all the poisons that lurk in the mud seep out," which also featured Lu, Kelly Moran, and Moses Boyd. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Tumor remained busy, pursuing hobbies like designing furniture as well as writing music. July 2021 saw the release of The Asymptotical World EP, which featured the single "Jackie." The following year, Tumor remixed Willow's "Perfectly Not Close to Me," then returned with music of their own with March 2023's full-length Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds). Produced by Noah Goldstein and mixed by Alan Moulder, the album further tightened Tumor's songwriting as it contrasted meditations on love, lust, faith, and fame with dense sonics drawing from post-punk, grunge, and nu-metal.
© Heather Phares & Paul Simpson /TiVo


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