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Yves Tumor releases transcendent ambient dance record

| Friday, October 6, 2017

Yves Tumor_WEBDominique DeMoe

It’s difficult to find one unifying thematic focus point among the various ideas Yves Tumor (Sean Bowie) transmutes into vibrant soundscapes on his free, self-released record, “Experiencing the Deposit of Faith.” The record was announced by surprise, just as Tumor signed to trendsetting electronic and experimental music powerhouse Warp Records — a sign of great things to come.

Knowing this, it’s easy to look over “Deposit of Faith” as merely prophetic; one taste to nourish us ahead of an astonishing new record. But this would not do Tumor justice, for “Deposit of Faith” is easily one of the quarter’s most compelling electronic records.

Not only is the record sonically airtight, but it’s thematically dense — and these features are mutually complementary. Most tracks evolve by compounding loops, cyclically digesting disparate themes through something akin to meditation. They spin like sonic ouroboros consuming infinity, slowly blurring into the sacred Aum.

“E. Eternal” best embodies this reflection. It’s the record’s most haunting track, yet among the most awe-inspiring as well; likewise, its central chant-like motif recalls the absurd, sublime symbiosis of joyful divine expectation with anguished self-destructive sin that epitomizes traditional manifestations of Catholic doctrine.

Yet these meditations generally take more unusual forms, like dysmorphic limbs assembled into the record’s beautiful chimera. Like “E. Eternal,” they often embody — or disembody — the liminal space between opposites.

Strictly speaking, “AfricaAshes” marries psychedelic funk with chopped-up, desecrated breakbeats; but the track is thematically compelling. It’s viscerally groovy but dizzyingly transcendental, even chaotic — the dancefloor as ritual function. It’s the realization of drunkenness and the subtle decadence of knowing you’re the life of a party you won’t remember in the morning. It’s fun disembodied, staring back in the dull-eyed stupor of boredom.

Tumor follows up the track with “Child of Rage,” one of the record’s most emotionally evocative tracks. The crowded beat is unusually bright, letting off ephemeral sparks of noise blinding in their almost celebratory glee. Yet dissonant yelling slices through the soundscape like spiteful reprimands. Nothing about this record is explicit or exposed, but the track alludes to resilience in the face of wrath; perhaps it’s about parental abuse, perhaps it’s about self-loathing. But the sea of light ultimately overcomes, drowning these limbs of darkness that stretch above the surface.

“Deposit of Faith” is phenomenologically deep, spanning the breadth of human emotion but trading the platitudes of love for the complexity of stifling limerence or perhaps narcissistic envy (“My Nose My Lips Your Head Shape”), the banality of acedia for the frightening liminality of self-seeking (“Ayxita, Wake Up”) and even prosaic nostalgia for the existential horror of past and future uncertainty (“Prosperity Awareness”).

The controversial French absurdist Georges Bataille wrote in detail about what he and his contemporaries termed “the limit-experience,” an experience so intense and unfathomable it approaches life’s metaphysical limit — the edge of existence. These include, for Bataille, experiences of fascination, madness, even eroticism.

But the most sublime of these is henosis: perfect unity with the divine — the edge of existence. Yves Tumor does not achieve this by any means, but every moment of “Deposit of Faith” feels like the abjection of purifying suffering, emanating the dim glow of transcendence.


Artist: Yves Tumor

Album: “Experiencing the Deposit of Faith”

Label: Self-released

Favorite Track: “E. Eternal”

If you like: theurgy, thresholds, Thanatos

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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