Yves Tumor makes miniature worlds out of a few tidy, thoughtful elements.
Yves Tumor makes miniature worlds out of a few tidy, thoughtful elements. Listen how he spins a mournful sax solo and a choppy sample of fireworks into a scarily huge space on “Prosperity Awareness,” or how he foregrounds a solemn snatch of nylon guitar over the raucous cheering of a sports crowd on “E. Eternal.” Or how a distant trap beat provides a platform for a love-drunk couple (the same one from his best-known song “Limerence”) to speculate on what their kid might look like on “My Nose, My Lips, Your Head Shape”—before he chops the dialogue into a disembodied list of body parts.
To say the songs on Tumor’s third album Experiencing the Deposit of Faith can’t have been hard to make is an understatement; they could have been thrown together in twenty minutes. His hip-hop productions in particular (“Anya’s Loop, Africa Ashes”) eschew our expectations for what we think of as “beats,” stubbornly looping in dead space. Those of us who want more elbow grease in our electronic music might find his music infuriating and simply peg him as a glorified beatmaker with a great aesthetic.
What Tumor shows here, instead of any particular technical mastery of his craft, is a keen awareness of how certain cues trigger subconscious associations and reactions. In that, he’s similar to Daniel Lopatin, inventor of vaporwave, whose ability to evoke the ambient corporatism around which most of us grew up made him and his progeny wildly popular in a way you wouldn’t associate with experimental electronic music. Tumor’s style is more abstract, less rooted in obvious cues—and thus, I suspect, more subjective. Some will feel nothing from Tumor’s music. Others might be moved to tears.
His music is sad, both in terms of the downward-dog melodies he favors and his choice of samples. “E. Eternal” gives off the impression you’re missing out on the action, as if you’re playing guitar alone in your room as a party you know you’ll never be invited to rages next door. Those who want an emotionally neutral experience should look elsewhere; this music stirs the heartstrings the same way as William Basinski, Stars of the Lid, or the downcast music alongside which “Limerence” appeared on this year’s Mono No Aware compilation (a pretty good summation of outré electronica in 2017).
This is essentially an odds-and-ends compilation of songs Tumor might not have been able to release on Warp, to which he’s freshly signed. It perhaps shouldn’t be thought of as a proper album, and it certainly doesn’t sound like one. It’s a collection of sketches. Each spins a little world for two or three minutes, then disappears into the ether. Tumor is one of electronic music’s most promising young guns, and he almost certainly has a great album in him, which he’ll probably release on Warp. This isn’t it, but it’s the perfect thing to hold us over—a low-stakes project that reminds us how goddamn good he is.