Yves Tumor24 Kitchen Street 23/11/18
The ambiguity of YVES TUMOR underpins his music’s compelling nature. The release of his most recent album, Safe In The Hands Of Love, is the latest rabbit hole for listeners to descend towards his warped perceptions. And yet, even in this gloomy, unsettling concave he is able to present himself with an edge of humility; he opts to take centre stage with a more vocal approach, rather than hiding behind the mystique of his heady productions.
Yves is here to play his only UK date outside of London, a Friday evening showcase in the intimate confines of 24 Kitchen Street. Unmissable, for those in the know, even to just attempt to absorb his complex persona.
Liverpool’s own ALEC TRONIK begins the proceedings. He provides a solid musical backdrop between sets on the night, with a unique mixture of deconstructed ravey breaks, warped RnB hooks and gqom beats. Reinterpretations of favourites by artists such as Kelela and Abra create a setting that feels momentarily tranquil, alluring and alarmingly perforated by brief moments of anxiety – especially against the more aggressive 808 workouts of trap numbers such as Bulma by BbyMutha. MC TARDAST, accompanied by DJ BЯYN, builds upon the high energy. The MC weaves his fast bars in and out of droning dubstep and bombastic grime instrumentals. The discordant, post-industrial tones sit comfortably with the dim lighting spreading through the venue. Yet, the atmosphere would be greatly be enhanced if the MC wasn’t so sparing with his flows and hooks.
As ICEBOY VIOLET takes to the stage, the room is packed. Its energy is spilling from body to body like an electrical circuit. The androgynous figure, mic in hand, is using this to his advantage. He throws himself into the crowd sporadically, playing upon their insistent desire to be thrashed out from their comfort zone. The sound of the Manchester based artist can only be described as controlled chaos, a rehearsed anarchy: uncompromising and very much emphatic. The experimental artist playfully toys with discordant keys and serene tones, all of which are thinly shrouded with spoken word and harrowing vocals. It’s a challenging set in which the viewer is asked to confront their sensitivities, dealing with themes such as sexuality, abuse and suicide through the provocative nature of the performance.
There is no big entrance for Yves Tumor. Beginning with the lush basslines of Honesty, the track’s simplistic bounce stirs the crowd, yet many are perplexed as to whether the set has actually begun. Abandoning the more introspective soundscapes and brash noise collages established on the likes of Serpent Music and When Man Fails You, the music presented is rich with lush vocal hooks and bulky rhythms. It demonstrates his attempts to further obscure the line between the accessible and experimental. His vocals soar throughout the venue with an emotional rasp as he thrillingly strides through tracks such as Licking An Orchid and Recognizing The Enemy. The biggest reaction of the night comes early into the set, as he performs the newly crowned indie-pop anthem Noid. Expectantly, the crowd roars along to the enormous chorus.
Much like his output as of late, the performance appears to signify Tumor’s transition towards a more visible presence. Bowie-esque, he dominantly fills out his human frame, backdropped by a haze of red fog, impetuously strutting around with an assured projection of allure and animality. This is an artist expressing their honesty through an ever-thinning veneer. His gangly stature contorts across the stage, piercing through the light as he cuts his shapes. He becomes the captivating spectacle; so much more than just the creator. His art lies within the delivery as much as it does the physicality of the performance. This is no more evident than when he performs his recent Blood Orange collaboration, Smoke. The track is outlined as an ode to the late Mac Miller. Stirring, as he wails the lines: “Have you ever lost somebody? Felt so helpless?”
The 45-minute set comes to a climax with an amalgam of piercing squeals and distorted clangs. The wash of sounds doesn’t quite sate the appetite of those in attendance, who pine for a final taste of avant-garde pop. The reward comes with a surprising rendition of Lifetime. Following such an energetic performance, it’s fitting that such a delicately delivered track gently consumes the crowd into an ethereal state of placidity.