Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to see the Northern lights. Sure, I can look at them from afar on my computer screen, but let's be honest, nothing can compare to standing under the aurora borealis in all of its illustrious glory. Plenty of other similarly beautiful sights across the world are out of my reach, though I have always been fixated on this one specifically. Why? Is it the blinding beauty of the lights themself? Is it the kaleidoscopic gaze that they stare back at the Earth with? Is it the mysticality and vastness of space combined with the elegance of the lights, making them seem almost like a beacon of hope amidst an infinity of emptiness? Truth be told, I don't know, and I don't think I need to. The uncertainty and mystique surrounding it make it all the more attractive. The music of Yves Tumor invokes similar deep-rooted feelings of allurement through a mix of beauty and ambiguity. Above all else, they both have one thing in common: space.
Yves Tumor's astronomical world falls somewhere between the ground reality of the planet Earth and the unknowingness of the distant cosmos. It's anagogic, surreal, and, most importantly, enchantingly psychedelic, embracing the magic of the mysterious. It's the soundtrack to being shot through the stratosphere through one of Mario Galaxy's warp stars, not knowing what vivid wonders are awaiting you right around the corner. Neo-psychedelia is defined as "music that creates a disorienting fantastical world for the listener, with an emphasis on extreme beauty, the fragile, preciousness of life, the doomed eternal aching to fully embrace life." I DARE every one of you to find me an artist in current music who embodies this definition better than Yves Tumor; from Kerosene, the musical personification of orgasming, to Noid, neo-psych's anti-police brutality anthem, there's never a dull moment with Sean Bowie.
It's the blues of a spaceman. Hot Between Worlds is the logical next step in Yves Tumor's artistic evolution. It combines the pop/rock-centric sensibilities of Heaven to a Tortured Mind with the more experimental proclivities of their earlier work, all the while taking some outside influence from genres like post-punk and noise pop. However, as opposed to being a glistening, lush, passionate, tender, and a cosmic masterclass in neo-psychedelia that jumps out at you, tenanted with colossal guitar solos and fluttering electronics, Hot Between Worlds feels more like a nightmare. Gloom and an underlying sense of dread flow through this album's blood. In concept, the shimmering synth line and sunny strums of a guitar make Lovely Sewer seem like it should be another radiant pop cut to add to Yves Tumor's repertoire. Yet, Yves and Kidä's haunting crooning in its despondent, unwavering monotony and a straight sinister bassline introduce foreboding elements that give the song an eerie undertone, almost like there's something much darker going on behind the scenes. Similar feelings of uncanniness shroud songs like Echolalia, with its muted, almost ghostly vocalisms, and Parody, as the overwhelming flurries of guitars during the song's climax send you spiraling into enigmatic portrait Sean paints across this record.
These moments, ultimately, are the ones I found the record to falter the most at. While commendable in the bleak world they can transport you to- a planet with its ground smoldered and charred to a disgusting degree, devoid of life, with clouds creating a dismal overcast, blocking the sun's rays from ever reaching its ruinous surface- songs like Parody, Echolalia and Fear Evil Like Fire ended up feeling too crushing in their loneliness, leading them to feel dull and passionless rather than being as exciting as Sean's previous works. The moments that stuck out to me were the more electrifying cuts where Sean was taking a song that should feel like lighthearted neo-psychedelia and dance-punk, then adding a more forlorn edge through additional instrumentation. The structureless and erratic God Is a Circle feels animated in its exhilarating guitar tones yet is brought down to Earth by Sean's restrained vocals and the manic nature of the song. Similarly, Meteora Blues almost sounds like something David Bowie would make if he were born in the Internet Age with its usage of acoustic guitars and strings, yet the controlled vocals of Sean Bowie keep it distinctly Yves Tumor; and don't even get me started on Ebony Eyes- a triumphant closer equipped with the same punchy drums, massive riffs, vibrant and oddly nostalgic synths, and larger than life theatrics which made Heaven To A Tortured Mind so memorable. It gives me a visual image of being blasted off from the planet Hot Between Worlds back into space via a rocket ship, staring down at the world with sadness in your heart that the journey is coming to an end, yet also hope for your future endeavors.
Favorite Tracks: God Is a Circle, Lovely Sewer, Metora Blues, Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood, In Spite of War, Purified By the Fire, Ebony Eye
Worst Track: Echolalia