Music Review: Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love

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Yves Tumor

Safe in the Hands of Love

[Warp; 2018]

Rating: 4.5/5

What does it even mean to be “experimental” anymore? It’s a term that’s supposed to connote some kind of wading into uncharted territory, a willingness to push beyond our most subliminally held beliefs when it comes to how we perceive music and, to a larger extent, the world. But the word has increasingly become shorthand for a specific scene of artists today who fit just as neatly into predetermined boundaries as any other genre tag. Sometimes it even feels like these “vanguard” artists are simply catching up to what mainstream culture has been privy to for years, as if the reassessments of nu-metal, EDM, country, or what have you are just the results of somebody finally deciding to slap the art sticker on what they deemed to be previously “lesser” forms. Maybe we would’ve just been better off not turning our noses down at so many manifestations of expression in the first place, as if any style of music isn’t inherently a nesting doll of gateways into understanding who we really are.

Part of what’s made Sean Bowie’s music so captivating over his many scattered projects is that he’s never seemed to put too much stock into being any one kind of artist. Sure, he’s all about that shadowy “who is he?” ambiguity that us critics just can’t ever seem to get enough of, but as Safe in the Hands of Love proves, even he’s willing to cast off the dark shroud of mystery around his work if it means that it’ll set him free. Despite all the disturbing imagery that’s accompanied his debut release for Warp, Yves Tumor’s latest record is shockingly accessible, a huge, explosive rush of song and sound as layered and textured as it is pure and simple. For an artist who’s demonstrated a remarkable ability to evoke moods of melancholy and fear in his music, Safe in the Hands of Love thrives on its intensity and excitement, revealing a side of Yves Tumor that we’ve never seen blossom so fully like this before.

The most striking thing about Safe in the Hands of Love is how utterly straightforward it is; compared to previous Yves Tumor records, which could flit between layered field recordings, slinky R&B, smudged beats, and overwhelming static without batting an eyelash, Safe in the Hands of Love plays like an outright pop record. Tracks like “Noid” and “Lifetime” could be mistaken for a strange approximation of English big beat and early-2000s indie rock with their pounding drums and surprisingly in-your-face vocals, but these moments are ultimately more fascinating for their sheer energy and hookiness than they are for any sort of aesthetic repurposing. Even in its most upbeat moments, there’s always a hidden layer beneath the frame — on the warped 90s pop of “Noid,” Bowie fears for his own life as a “killing spree” rages on outside, while the ruminative chamber music of “Recognizing the Enemy” builds to a voice-shredding climax as Bowie chants over and over, “I can’t recognize myself.” All these nebulous paeans to identity, love, spirituality, and freedom that dot the lyrics and track titles are as immediately relatable as they are obscured by their own vagueness, producing the woozy effect of feeling both closer and more distant from Yves Tumor at the same time.

But even if Safe In The Hands of Love’s deadliest weapon is its simplicity and its rock friendliness, the craft here still feels as nuanced as anything Bowie has ever done. You can hear his love of deep, moody loops in the smeared “Faith In Nothing Except Salvation” and “All The Love We Have Now,” each of which sound like the result of stacking so many low bitrate recordings atop one another until their ugliness becomes its own kind of beauty. Although Bowie only ever seems to deploy his diced-up beats when the moment truly calls for it, “Honesty” demonstrates his fearsome approach to club rhythms, click-clacking back and forth as Yves Tumor asks, “Is this you or your persona?” All this questioning and self-discovery only adds to Safe in the Hands of Love’s almost glam-rock sense of roleplay; even when Bowie dips back into the harsh noise of his past on the bridge of the sensuous trip-hop dirge “Licking an Orchid,” it sounds less like abstract expressionism and more like his twisted version of a sky-tearing guitar solo.

There are traces of the old Yves Tumor here in the sighing, deconstructed R&B of “Economy of Freedom” and the pulverizing feedback assault of “Hope In Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness),” but when did we ever really have a grasp on the old Yves Tumor in the first place? Every project Bowie has pursued over the years has felt like an attempt to realize a different facet of himself, with the wild divergence from album to album (sometimes even from song to song; sometimes even within a song) only helping to give us a more detailed portrait of the artist. Although Yves Tumor’s rise to prominence has put a target on his head for every blog and algorithm out there to attempt and nail down exactly who or what he is, Safe in the Hands of Love proves that no amount of definition can really encompass a person’s ever-shifting essence. Bowie’s only consistent trajectory has been one of tearing down his mythos even as his builds it, and his latest manages to knock down yet another wall as he steps more fully into the light than he’s ever dared tread before. On Safe in the Hands of Love, Yves Tumor isn’t concerned with being “experimental;” he’s simply concerned with being.

WHOA WHOA WHOA! Yves Tumor surprise-releases new album Safe in the Hands of Love on Warp

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Whaaaaaaa!! What’s going onnnnnnnnn?!

Yes I know TMT’s beloved Yves Tumor released a new song and video last week. That’s old news! But wait what’s this? You’re telling me that song was just a single for a new album? A new album that’s out now?!?!?

Apparently, this surprising new album is called Safe in the Hands of Love and is out now via Warp Records on streaming services everywhere, with CD and 2LP versions coming October 12. Last year’s Experiencing the Deposit of Faith was #2 on our Favorite 50 Music Releases of 2017 and Yves’s previous album, Serpent Music, was #11 on our Favorite 50 Music Releases of 2016. But wait, hold the phone, this newly released album is apparently radically different from any of Yves’s previous work? Seriously????

Safe in the Hands of Love features the aforementioned “Licking an Orchid” as well as the Marilyn Manson-channeling “Noid” and 7 other new tracks. The record features guest spots from James K, Croatian Amor, Oxhy, and Puce Mary. Wow! Supersquad, assemble!

Alright, TMT team! Now’s your chance! Go! Go! Go! Stream it, buy it, check it! Also take a look at that supersonic album artwork below, then just try and catch Yves at one of his upcoming shows this year. You’re welcome!

“Safe in the Hands of Love” by Yves Tumor

Safe in the Hands of Love tracklisting:

01. Faith In Nothing Except In Salvation
02. Economy of Freedom
03. Honesty
04. Noid
05. Licking an Orchid ft James K
06. Lifetime
07. Hope in Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness) ft. Oxhy, Puce Mary
08. Recognizing the Enemy
09. All The Love We Have Now
10. Let The Lioness In You Flow Freely

Yves Tumor upcoming live shows:

09.26.18 – New York, NY – Central Park Summerstage *
09.27.18 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore Philadelphia *
09.28.18 – Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre *
10.01.18 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall *
10.02.18 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall *
10.05.18 – Warsaw, PL – Avant Art
10.06.18 – Prague. CZ – Lunchmeat Festival
10.12-13.18 – Atlanta, GA – Afropunk Festival
11.08.18 – Utrecht, NL – Le Guess Who Festival
11.10.18 – Barcelona, ES – Mira Festival

* Blood Orange

Music Review: GAIKA – Basic Volume

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Basic Volume

[Warp; 2018]

Rating: 2/5

This is what Batman would sing, alone, to himself, in his Batcave on a night where no Bat-Signal signals, if he could sing, which he can’t.

This is what the white man’s world doesn’t want to know. Of the black body within a country that doesn’t recognize it. Of the black body being scanned and feared and exploited and shot and killed. Of the mouth that tells it it can’t be British.

This is the false hope that all of this racial and political strife will turn into tears and tears and tears drifting down every cheek in England, of every color, and we will, amid our tears, recognize that we have more in common than we thought, and that life is but a dream.

This is what it sounds like to be rid of your body but still have it, and love it; to transcend it.

This is sound as a form of rebellion, resistance. Of the bodily, of the body’s energy held in a lightness and shedding a soft, unspeakable tone: a light frequency you can’t see.

This is an inner emptiness. An identity mistaken for nothing. Something glossed over as nothing when in reality, it was something. Karmic imprints in our bodies. Traces of the past. Scorpions glowing at night from the moon’s ultraviolet light.

This is how to resist the temptation of a supposed utopic, post-racial space.

This is coming to terms with the beauty of anxiety, stress, physical pain, depression, and thoughts of inadequacy.

This is the sound of having something that they don’t want you to have and that you can’t get rid of. Something sinister, drifting quickly toward nebulousness. Something powerful. Something that you can’t speak of. Something unnameable.

This is how to repel the Evil Eye. How to allow your melancholic restlessness to morph into angelic postulation. How to start praying again. How to restart the ability to imagine who you are. How to redefine your limits.

This is the sound of a thin stench of burning bone coming from a kebab shop’s dumpster.

This is the sound of no end in site.

Aphex Twin announces new Collapse EP in his typically totally straightforward manner, shares new song and video

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Great SCOTT!

The heroic and charismatic Richard D. James is o-fish-ally back from the future with a new EP entitled Collapse and a new video by Weirdcore for the track “T69 Collapse.”

The thing is out September 14 via Warp.

I’d like to tell you more, but the press release LITERALLY looks like this:

All I can get out of that is that the Collapse EP is gonna be… “fun”… “beautiful”… and full of rhythms that are “like cake.”

But still! Rest assured that THIS SHIT IS REAL. Because Warp has the nice, tidy tweet to prove it:

Know what, though? Screw all this.

Here’s the video for “T69 Collapse,” followed by the EP artwork. Draw your OWN conclusions and write your OWN Aphex Twin news post about it (and maybe send it my way when you’re done, okay?):

Collapse EP artwork

The hype is real: Warp Records teases new Aphex Twin ‘Collapse’ EP, which may arrive Aug. 7

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The hype is real: Warp Records teases new Aphex Twin ‘Collapse’ EP, which may arrive Aug. 7Screen Shot 2018 08 05 At 10.37.39 AM

Aphex Twin‘s built considerable hype behind his next project with the appearance of his logo on posters worldwide —including London, Italy, Hollywood, and New York City. Now, a teaser that was posted on Aphex’ record label’s Twitter account, Warp Records, suggests fans might just reap the benefits of the escalating anticipation after all. The cryptic image contains some text clues, and while most of the decipherable words are broken up, a few words do appear multiple times — Collapse EP.

A potential tracklist even seems to make its way into the teaser, which the r/aphextwin subreddit suggests is premiering this Tuesday morning, on Adult Swim via a screen-captured programming schedule.

The hype is real: Warp Records teases new Aphex Twin ‘Collapse’ EP, which may arrive Aug. 7Screen Shot 2018 08 05 At 10.36.17 AM

Could Aphex Twin be planning to release new music?

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Could Aphex Twin be planning to release new music?Aphe Twin Face

A 3D logo eerily resembling that of the renowned IDM producer Aphex Twin has sparked considerable speculation after surfacing in London’s Elephant and Castle Underground Tube Station.

Since surfacing on Instagram, many have grown to believe that Richard D James may be using the posters as promotional material for his seventh album, or at the very least teasing out the possibilities of some upcoming 3D London shows. Speculation is largely based on the fact that the guerrilla marketing campaign closely resembles a similar trail that led to Aphex Twin’s 2014 album, Syro, which was announced with a flying blimp in London as well as logo stencils in US cities.

Further support for the new music, comes from the fact that Aphex was said to have resided in a former bank vault in Elephant & Castle, following the release of his seminal Come To Daddy EP — making the location choice for the posters a considerbly eerie coincidence.

H/T: Resident Advisor

♫ Listen: Yves Tumor – “Noid”

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Yves Tumor is a trickster, deftly perverting the conventions of soul, a beautiful corruption that produces unease as well as fascination. His first single since signing to Warp Records about a year ago, “Noid” recalls that other trickster, the pizza-ruining motherfucker from the Domino’s Pizza ads (yes…I’m sure that’s what Yves was intending). Seriously though, Yves has fashioned an accessible standout here, complete with shuffling breakbeat and mangled strings. The song is an illustrated cacophony, Yves repeating the lyrics like a mantra, anxiety ablaze as sirens and screams launch around him.

Don’t avoid this “Noid!”

Oneohtrix Point Never announces The Station EP, exclusive 12-inch, more Myriad shows

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Imagine electronic music as old people music. In 50 or 100 years, oscillators and filters may very well have gone the way of the dodo in favor of Aural Mindmapping. But maybe the genre will persevere in a repertory form, sorta how some classical and jazz has today. Decades from now, the best concert halls will transform electronic performances into listening events dripping with intellect.

At Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Myriad” show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, the future had arrived. The gorgeous venue mutated Lopatin’s bleak conceptual meisterwerke Age Of from a mere concert and into a sublime listening experience. Outside the ornate playbills, the show was a peek at electronic music’s potential. Let’s move toward these full-bodied happenings where we exhibit sounds as we display paintings — and there ain’t nothing wrong with keeping it smart.

If you thought you missed “Myriad,” fret not. Oneohtrix is taking the show global to some of the best cities on the globe (shout-outs to Tokyo, Paris, LA) this September and October.

AND on July 27, ‘Trix will be releasing a new EP called The Station, named after a familiar Age Of track and bundled with three unheard ones. This release coincides with an exclusive 12-inch called We’ll Take It, which features the same three new tracks plus a t-shirt bundle if you’re so inclined.

Among the songs is “Trance 1,” a ravey melancholic number reminiscent of Ital Tek or Burial. In other words, pretty Oneohtrix-y. Listen to and/or download “The Station” here, and look out for an accompanying video for “The Station” in the next few days, a song that began as a demo for Usher. (See? You learn something new every day.)

The Station (Digital/streaming) tracklisting:

01. The Station
02. Monody
03. Blow by Blow
04. Trance 1

We’ll Take It 12-inch tracklisting:

01. We’ll Take It
02. Monody
03. Blow by Blow
04. Trance 1

See “Myriad” live:

09.12.18 – Tokyo, Japan – O-East
09.24.18 – Paris, France – 104 Centquatre (Presented by Red Bull Music Festival Paris)
10.22.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Disney Concert Hall

Gaika announces debut album, leads with ominous new single ‘Crown & Key’

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Brixton-born Gaika has announced his debut album, Basic Volume, will be released on July 27 on Warp Records.

Steeped in gothic multitudes, the forthcoming LP is rich with high-concept imagery and futuristic beats. Gaika wants to shift where “normal” is for black UK artists, and as a result, his music is severely distinct, far from the grime, reggae, or coffee table music he explains defines his region.

Basic Volume will feature production work from modern pop’s greatest provocateur, SOPHIE, as well as Jam City — who worked closely as an executive producer on Kelela’s debut —  as well as Dre Skull, Nick Leon, and others.

According to the artist, the LP of “gothic dancehall and industrial electronics” is influenced by “academia, British reggae sound systems, philosophy and political theory… [intersecting] with meditations on his own identity.”

“My thing has always been: be yourself—whatever you are, be that—and people will walk towards it,” it continues with Gaika saying. “I am whatever I say I am. And I want that to apply to all people of colour, all black people. This idea of what we like, make, do and how our art can be defined from outside of us is something I will actively try to disrupt.”

So far, Gaika’s led Basic Volume with the severely sociopolitical new single, “Crown & Key.” “God save the roadmen, goons, and thugs, and the youths beggin’ boots, get their racks from drugs,” he half sings. Evidently refraining from genre limitations, “Crown & Key” is a meeting of industrial dancehall and gothic grime that is unique to Gaika and Gaika alone. His free-thought is carrying an unmistakable air of refreshing British grit, and that’s another incredibly compelling defining feature in itself.

Music Review: Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of

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Oneohtrix Point Never

Age Of

[Warp; 2018]

Rating: 3/5

“Time begins to emit a scent when it gains duration; when it is given a narrative or deep tension; when it gains depth and breadth, even space.”
– Byung-Chul Han

“One has to become a cybernetician to remain a humanist.”
– Peter Sloterdijk

That thirst, that desire. To present us multiple worlds that work indirectly, circuitously. To create sounds as sensing machines — shredding machines. To wander in a liminal or in-between space both fleeting and graspable, like the tangible heaviness of air on a humid day that fades after rain. Or fog lingering on the mirror after a hot shower. Or the dizzy feeling when blood rushes to your head after getting up too quickly. Age Of overflows with moments like that. Of caught between the between. Of experiencing two emotions at once. Of those that are twin-headed, two-hearted, bivalved. Connected, disconnected; utopian, dystopian.

Even after multiple listens, the songs on Age Of have a strange not-yet quality built into how you access them; they still possess an airy, weightless, featherlike, and withdrawn quality, unable to reveal themselves completely, working through a hiddenness more than an exposure. They act sloppy, in an excessively casual manner, pockmarked and oozing with inconsistencies and anomalies, like the human body, and, more broadly, like humanness. They want to eat your brains, like “We’ll Take It” or throw you down the elevator shaft, like on “Warning.” But sometimes they wrap you in a warmth that only fairy tales can vivify, like on “Toys 2” or “RayCats.” In other words, for the first time, we’ve got a Oneohtrix Point Never record that’s a bit all over the place conceptually. It’s erratic. It doesn’t come with a grand concept. It eats its cake and vomits it up, too.

There’s nothing wrong with the erratic quality; because of it, timelines and simulacra crisscross all about the record. A cyborg-sublime beckons for you to experience it. So do vast, elaborate, unnameable infrastructures ordinarily invisible to ourselves. (But for what purpose do these infrastructures come to fruition? And how do we experience them?) A historicity — straight from the timbre’s mouth — pours forth. Like the harpsichords on the opening track: how they conjure visions of knights throwing serfs into the jaws of moat-crocs for fun; cherubim circulating around the heads of choir singers; sculptures at rest in well-manicured, royal gardens. Woe be on us if we forget about all that Gruyere eaten in awesome grottos all about the Swiss Alps.

Then, with one wave of a magic wand, the historicalness of the music vanishes and 2018 looms in. We’ve been here before. If Garden of Delete was at odds with the male body’s transformation during its adolescence, Age Of is at odds with the permanency of genre and the permanency of composition, hence why it sounds more like a compilation than an album. Case in point: OPN’s performances operate iteratively, treating his songs as fluidly mobile parts able to be assembled and disassembled as he sees fit, thusly confounding the frozenness of his records. Performing live, he allows sound to wiggle and jiggle; to fatten or soften or inflate or deflate; to become violently infected — via gut bacteria or nuclear sludge or botched field recordings — thereby changing the route and direction they take, and especially their behavior; to lead to other sounds that weren’t, and oftentimes couldn’t, be there, but now are, and by the constitution of their being, highlight another possibility, another window onto another landscape, another selfie from another angle, another spell cast in the Magic: The Gathering duel, another tweet written from the cryo-chamber. At its best, Age Of tiptoes around the idea of being completely one with timeliness. At its worst, it can’t get the motor up and running; the dopamine never transfers. It’s why, in a recent interview with The New York Times, he can admit that “things have to become other things, or else I feel unsatisfied and/or like a con man.” It’s also why, in that same interview, he says he “like[s] to take chaos and structure it so it has a kind of comprehensible pulsation.”

Iteration keeps OPN’s dream of a comprehensible pulsation alive and healthy. The chaos and impermanency spawn cyborg-cowboys, alien-cowboys, grunge-guys sitting in dive bars wondering when’s liftoff. (Cue in the deadbeat bass riff of “The Station” for those dudes.) It’s why he favors anti-automation over quantifiability and, by doing so, forms an extreme resistance toward social media’s quantification of our desires and capitalism’s need to accelerate. The whole world can fuck with that resistance. Mark Fisher was right about capitalism when he wrote that it’s “an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker, [and] the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.” Fuck being a zombie! Age Of suggests.

Anti-automation also favors privacy over publicity, recuperation over speed. Because to be a musician — and I can add here, to be alive — is to view invisibility as a superpower. Music doesn’t have to participate in the language game of life. We are alive on Age Of’s aesthetic battlefield, in the trench of the unshackled referent, between the limits of timbre and the limits of how malleable that timbre is; between OPN’s ability to use the tools in his toolbox and his ability to hear something that isn’t audible yet has a toward-being-audible quality. It’s like a music that you can describe but not play, that nobody could play because of its impossibility, that can only be conceived through the temptation of just how out of reach it is. Again, we’re in that in-between. Because the album can’t be one complete thing, Age Of is its own archenemy; its own princess stranded in a high castle; its own climb up the Holy Mountain. A radical incompleteness haunts it. Moreover, a radical incompleteness completes it. Like when a relationship is a thing but not really a thing. Or when nothing goes as planned. Or our browser history: the mark of ourselves that we leave behind on devices. Or overheard conversations, at once ours and not ours.

Or the space between another’s pain and your acknowledgment of it. Peeling the plastic cling wrap off an electronic screen. Wrapping a piece of blue cheese. Cracks in old leather. Dolly, the cloned sheep. Veggie burgers. Faux fur. Open secrets. Spanglish. Skin peeling after a sunburn. Traces of pheromone altering a bee’s flight trajectory.

Because of its incompleteness, this album will stick with some but detract others. To just have the MIDI be a kind of scent-trail, to have the songs dawdle and lollygag: that’s OPN’s Achilles’ heel. All of their tracings and slivers and dregs and anti-memory and timbre-clouds of speculation and multi-scentedness and overloadedness and trauma and paranoia and violence and primal rush for communication and nuclear DNA and ugly feelings and sonic apophenia and extreme closeups and obsession with performance and intimacy and sloppiness and perfectionism and bizarre techno-sexual energy. All of that malfunctionality: where sound combusts, destabilizes, falls off, become unaware of itself and engages with unncanniness, paranoia, and ambiguity. It’s too much of too much sometimes. But sometimes it’s fucking amazing.

Where does this lead, it coyly suggests. To another world than this, from a cut to coagulation. A fatty, sticky musicianship that forms a resistance against the techno-semiotic chains of automation that autocorrect our texts and organize our thoughts into the digital spaces we’ve come to accept. Then, as it always does with OPN, it goes back to the bodily: an auto-tuned voice embodying the dismembered and the fractal. A voice envious of the desire to be another voice — yet still being. A voice that functions as a sneak peek into its own existence. A voice like a Snapchat filter over your face, making it more attractive. Life’s muck; the memories of an Alzheimer’s patient; a relaxed hyperattention. And then back to the internet begging you to surf it, calling out to you, whispering.

But where does this lead? The problem with Age Of is that it doesn’t make it immediately clear what it wants. That’s also its strength. Once again, we’re in that in-between. The songs have presence yet also reek of the absence of their own selves, of what they could have been. (This could have been a pop song, this could have been a theme song, this could have been the song played at our wedding, this could have been the song we bumped while driving in a spaceship through the galaxy.) Some of them resist the temptation of becoming an earworm, while others, like “Babylon” and “Black Snow,” have the desire to be one.

Because if it doesn’t play in your head time and time again while you try to sleep, did you really listen to it? We need no prophets, we know what is coming, but can we live with that? The parking lots are infernos of yellow light. A green dragonfly glints with the blue of a cloudless sky, blending in with the lake’s edge, like an intro scene to the movie you’ve always wanted to star in. An invisible seed sprouted in the void attaches itself to your DNA while you keep on dreaming your surreal, magnificent dreams. That song you shouldn’t have listened to right before bedtime, just stuck. That internet search that never really ended. Your eyes, even when closed, bathed in computerized light.