‘Safe In the Hands of Love’ is a genre-less, experimental masterwork
Patrick Witteman | Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Yves Tumor is hard to pin down. The Tennessee artist rarely gives interviews and has gone by pseudonyms of Rahel Ali and Sean Bowie throughout his career. Tumor’s elusiveness is a perfect descriptor for his album “Safe In the Hands of Love.” The experimental project jumps between genres as quickly as it jumps between the different emotional states of Tumor.
Although Tumor is grouped into the category of noise artists, many tracks on this album heavily rely on the sonics of rhythm and blues, alternative rock and trip hop. On the track “Licking an Orchid,” Tumor modernizes a trip hop sound that finds its origins on Massive Attack’s 1998 album, “Mezzanine.” As Tumor’s section of “Licking an Orchid” ends, the trip hop beat gives way to a mercurial wall of white noise that serves to emphasize the contrasting emotions and confusion seen in Tumor’s lyrics. In “Licking an Orchid,” Tumor repeats, “Some call it pain / Some call it torture / Lately I enjoy it / Baby, please come home / I swear I’ll love you dearly / No one can hold you closer.”
One of the shortcomings of experimental albums is that they can, at many times, feel disjointed. Artists jump between songs meant to appeal to mass pop sensibilities and songs that fully commit to the vision of the given musician. On “Safe In the Hands of Love,” Tumor does switch between pop and experimental visions, and the project does feel disjointed at times. However, this lack of experimental unity actually adds value to “Safe In the Hands of Love” by contributing to the general state of disarray that Tumor creates through his lyrics and composition.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is “Lifetime.” On this track, Tumor belts out lyrics about the torture of being separated from his brothers, the people that he misses and cares about. In a delivery that finds its closest relative in the delivery of Lil Peep, the Tennessee rapper laments, “Gloria, can’t hold me back from her / I swear it’s torture / I miss the days out in Biscayne / I miss my brothers / Give me three more weeks to sort this out / I swear I’ll prosper / Out in Biscayne and I miss my brothers.” These lyrics are not only characteristic of the emotional weight contained in the project, but they characterize the laser focus Tumor has when condensing his emotions into fragmented snippets. The specificity in what he mentions adds power to his lyrics, and the listener feels pulled into many tracks during this album’s run time. The emotionally dense lyrics are accompanied with a piano and string-based production that, like most of the album’s sonics, is expansive and incredibly ambitious.
Ultimately, Tumor is successful in his pursuit of confusion and disarray. The mixing of genres in this project allows Tumor to fit feelings of love, fear, happiness and dread under the roof of one sprawling album that does not fall short of realizing its ambitious vision.
Artist: Yves Tumor
Album: “Safe In the Hands of Love”
Favorite Tracks: “Faith In Nothing Except In Salvation,” “Noid,” “Licking an Orchid,” “Lifetime”
If you like: Massive Attack, Arca, Lil Peep, Death Grips
Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5