Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Yves Tumor – Noid

From Tomás, a record for right now…


Tomás Gauna: It’s weird for me to see Yves Tumor get so much acclaim this year. Not that it isn’t deserved — Safe in the Hands of Love is one of the best albums of the year without a doubt, and he has been making excellent music under different aliases for almost a decade — but his music was not the type of music most music websites not dedicated to electronic or experimental stuff talk about. Then again, “Noid” is not necessarily that either. It is basically a pop song that takes elements from ’90s trip hop — complete with an obscure soul sample, alternative rock, and ’60s psychedelia into downbeat, stranger territory. The word “noid” is short for “paranoid,” and with mentions of PTSD and depression, the lyrics take on police brutality and the effects that it has on the mental health of young black people — Yves Tumor himself being a black person in America. It wouldn’t be an easy listen, if not for the fact that literally everything in the song is a perfect hook. From beginning to end, “Noid” is extremely catchy without trying too hard to be — which results in one of the darkest, most relevant, and most perfect pop songs released this year.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Safe in the Hands of Love finds Sean L. Bowie continuing his trek through lo-fi styles with more of a trip-hop bent (mostly reminiscent of Psyence Fiction) and vocal melodies that bring to mind various 2000s indie and/or emo bands. While the album is being touted as one of the best “experimental” releases of the year, it’s less obtuse than critics let on, featuring his largest pop sensibilities to date. The political messaging of “Noid” is less effective in its vocalizing and lyrics than the way it’s mixed in such a chaotic (albeit familiar) manner. Between the instrumentation, Sylvia St. James sample, and the shrieks that we hear near the end of the track, “Noid” captures the spirit of the title well enough.

Anthony Easton: Doing melodic noise by building up competing signals is a difficult trick, but elegant when done with a modicum of skill. This is a good example of that. 

Nortey Dowuona: Thick, heavy drums rumble through while swirling, unkempt synths follow, Yves tonelessly droning. Suddenly, a peel-off synth bass is slapped on and shocks the place into a washing froth, making Yves’s droning drawl into a more urgent, darker tone.

Iain Mew: The gradual transitioning of nostalgic strings to straight-out screaming in the same space is such a great trick. It deserves a song that uses it in aid of something more than general clatter. 

Tim de Reuse: A phenomenon that bugs me more than it probably bugs everybody else: music billed as “experimental” on the basis of an unconventional mix. The punchy prominence of the sequenced drums, the lack of low end on the vocals, the papery noise that billows throughout the second half: These are all surface-level elements obscuring what is structurally a pretty bare-bones pop song with some fantastic lyrics. I’m not at all opposed to sonic clutter, but I don’t see what this mess is working toward beyond an initial shock of “whoa, that sounds strange.”

Alfred Soto: Adult contemporary Orgy.

Maxwell Cavaseno: I’m not sure where Warp got in the business of selling artists that sound like Kasabian, but then again, they did sign Maximo Park once upon a time. “Noid” is a thick mess of fear that does its best to be straight-ahead pop-rock at the same time, which creates a Peanut Butter Fluff scenario of trying to put too much of a good thing in the guts of your sandwich/record. I can already listen to pop songs, and I can already listen to the sounds of terrified crowds as a statement about the world. Doing both at the same time just dilutes the effectiveness of both.

Ian Mathers: The clattering, partly-sampled tumult and strong vocal performance and lyrics gives me the impression that here, at the more pop end of his personal aesthetic spectrum, Tumor might actually have something in common with the first over- then underrated album by Unkle. Both are post-everything efforts that don’t feel like genres mixing so much as just the way we do things now, although Tumor handles the bluntly political subject matter better.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: In a way, “Noid” echoes a very common thought process for some of us who have battled with depression: the moment where nostalgia — the return to a bright, pulsating memory — slowly starts decomposing, turning the colorful, positive idea into dark despair. You can still sense some of those colors amidst the chaos, but they slowly get buried in the muck. Yves Tumor explores the sonic language of soul and disco not as construction, but as texture, which reminds of the trip-hop era, but this relentless unleashing of the full force of post-industrial darkness is Tumor’s own. And it could only belong to a time like now. 

Reader average: [6.33] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “Yves Tumor – Noid”

  1. When I saw that we were covering this I was like, “Hm did Tomás recommend this?” Glad to see that was the case.

  2. not entirely convinced alfred’s blurb isn’t meant for the poppy/grimes song

  3. Glad to see my brand is very well represented :)

    And honestly if you listen to the rest of the album… it does sound v on brand with Warp as well. If it were up to me I would have gone with Economy of Freedom, a quite experimental, sound collage-based “avant-club” track, but I know that wouldn’t have been as well received (and it would be much harder to write about lol).