Breaking away from the centerfold to create a unique experience for listeners, is something few artists are capable of achieving. Sean Bowie over the past decade has built a reputation as a creative endowed with this ability, while blurring genre lines to sustain a sound that is completely his own. On the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 Warp debut Safe In The Hands of Love, Bowie fully embraces the glam rock obsession of his childhood to craft a project that blends abrasive noise experimentations and otherworldly pop laced hooks. What may seem more as a reserved project, is actually a fully realized dream in creating yet another persona in Bowie’s decade long maturation from underground phenom to the most adventurous artist in music today.
Heaven To A Tortured Mind moves from tender love ballads to hip hop induced swagger that amass to moments of triumph produced by a regalia of horns. “Gospel For A New Century” is the perfect opener that grips the listener with stylish drum patterns that weave around a cool bass lines that keeps true to the title’s namesake. These bold gestures of stature are only raised by the power Bowie wields in blistering guitar lines from the offset of “Medicine Burn” and the raucous samples that snap in “Folie Imposee.”
The constant waves of emotion that come with relationships translate to the most honest, intimate moments on the album. “Kerosene!” bleeds with sexual tension, reminiscent of 70s disco. It’s accompanied by the harmonious melding of Bowie’s aching pleas of devotion and the wondrous heights of Diana Gordon’s vocals. “Oh I can be your only girl, little baby / oh I can be anything you need,” Bowie begs to a love that inches further away till Gordon is left alone on the track recanting these same prayers, “Ooh, I can be what you need / I can, oh I can, oh I can, I can.”
“Dream Palette” is bathed in confrontation that features an array of samples including fireworks. These sounds alongside the high wire drums and the downtrodden guitar holds the track in place. The song itself recreates the whirling dizziness in the opening scene of HBO’s Lovecraft Country as Bowie synchronizes his voice with Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean while channeling frustration, “Our hearts in danger / Tell me is this fundamental love?.”
Another underrated highlight is the stark minimalism of “Strawberry Privilege,” which features a riveting bass line and a quaint vocal performance from Bowie and Cumming; in tandem once again layered in brooding atmospherics.
Yves Tumor gifts listeners pure bliss in a world fraught without compassion and a growing uncertainty of what the future holds.
Essentials: “Kerosene!,” “Gospel For A New Century,” “Strawberry Privilege”
Prerequisites: Arca – Arca, Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!