Avant-pop beatsculptor Yves Tumor lights it up on "Kerosene"!

Making definitive statements about Yves Tumor, the serpentine sobriquet of Sean Bowie, is an exercise in futility. The queer, African-American conceptual artist's music exists in the in-between, in the flux of HD Pop and mangled experimental music. He's as much Prince as he is Dean Blunt or Throbbing Gristle, whom Bowie has been compared to. He's got the infectious instincts of a pop songwriter but the restless magpie mind of a true experimental musician.



Over the span of his short-but-excellent career, Tumor's been turning in some of the most invigorating Pop/Club hybrids of the last 10 years, starting with the exquisite Serpent Music for the essential PAN Records and then, more recently, with his surprise debut for Warp Records in 2018, Safe in the Hands of Love. "Kerosene" is his most recent single from his upcoming album Heaven to a Tortured Mind, out on April 3 on Warp.

Historically, Tumor's music has been in-line with 2010 future beat-style producers like Arca, SD Laika, It's hard to know what to even call this style of post-organic beat mutations, which sound more like an ecosystem than songs, per se. And that's part of what makes "Kerosene" so striking. Yves Tumor emerges from the primordial soup, dripping and intact, revealing himself to be a solid songwriter and excellent performer along with having crazy good ideas.

"Kerosene" sounds like a '70s funk/soul banger that's been wrapped in styrofoam and buried for 30 years. Built around a glistening, looping guitar line, gelatinous bassline, and oil-slick organ, "Kerosene!" is just a solid song but with a modern surrealist glow. It's like some 70s soul band is kept in some static virtual prison, woken up simply to play their parts and then put right back into cryo-sleep.

"Kerosene!" has a lot in common with other modern conceptual pop artists like the aforementioned Dean Blunt, Devonte Hyne's Blood Orange project, or soul revisionists like Connan Mockasin. Even more so than those other artists, though, Yves Tumor shows us you don't need some art school concept to prop up adventurous music. "Kerosene" is just a solid soul banger, straight up. That also happens to have some interesting production.

We Are: The Guard were already looking forward to Yves Tumor's follow-up. We're practically frothing at the bit, now!


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.