It isn’t unique to the current time, but the age of social media has amplified the influx of possible avenues to self-identification. When the whole world is able to watch, what’s the best way to make yourself known, make yourself appear total? We often wonder whether we should define ourselves by political literacy, video games, or our proclivity for consuming music. Some may feel comfortable on Twitter – unselfconscious in the compatibility of their chosen platform and their interests – others only feel like miscast performers in some great stage show.
Yves Tumor revels in flexibility. Having created under countless monikers in Berlin and Los Angeles as Bekelé Berhanu, Shanti, and TEAMS among others, the work of Sean Lee Bowie (even his birth name seems dubious) is a many-headed beast. On ‘Safe In The Hands of Love’, ‘beast’ is more accurate than ever. From the cursory introduction, we’re introduced to so many styles it’s hard to keep up: funk, soul, ambient, wonky electronica. Just when ‘Economy of Freedom’ gives some idea of this dislocated audio space, Yves Tumor’s vocal swagger recalls Damon Albarn on lead single ‘Noid’.
But ‘Hope in Suffering’ near the album’s end returns us to scorched earth, accompanied by pained fire and brimstone sermonising – “fucked into incompletion,” the voice says, and a distorted scream sits below the surface. The album feels uneven, the result of too many sonic ideas with none taking precedence. But arguably, one idea remains – the feeling of constant becoming… becoming what, exactly? “Inside my own living Hell / I can’t recognise myself”, so says the singer.