Joe Creely took a journey to Denmark’s capital Copenhagen to see Yves Tumor, live at Mayhem,
In the last couple of years, Yves Tumor has marked himself as one of the burgeoning stars of the murky space where the underground meets the indie mainstream. Serpent Music and Experiencing the Deposit of Faith, ended up on a host of best albums of the year lists and his The Feeling When You Walk Away becoming something of an NTS standard in the year and a half since its release. His eclectic relationship with genre is usually expressed in a form of murky, textural loops that are experimental yet emotive and tuneful, something that made his signing to Warp towards the tail end of last year both entirely logical and somewhat surprising. But it transpires an Yves Tumor show is a million miles from his work on record.
On this occasion he performs away from the stage where all the support acts have performed in a space of his own creation, a flat platform with only a table and his equipment, all of which is surrounded with four walls of translucent plastic sheets.
This, accompanied by scarlet back lights, means that he is at first only visible in occasional vague glimpses and shadows pacing about getting his shit in order. So far, so ambient. The staging feels simultaneously like a comment on the position of black artists in largely white spaces, often treated somewhere between zoo animals and stock in the Argos warehouse, and a time honoured technique of an electronic act trying to spruce up their button pressing. However it becomes immediately apparent that he isn’t here to be playing the slower, softer end of his work when a wall of ear splitting white noise, clanking industrial textures and manic drums loops fills the room.
His silhouette prowls the stage, shirtless before contorting wildly and launching into full blooded screams and MC Ride-esque panicked, muscular yelps. He presses his face to the sheet a la the poster for The Frighteners and the front row start to prod holes in the plastic sheets. He forces his head through one of these tarpaulin glory holes and screams as he emerges like a calf being born. At the end of every song he slowly toddles back, changes the drum tempo, turns a couple of knobs, gives it four beats then launches back into his indecipherable screams.
There are no discernible structures and melody has been long abandoned. It really should get repetitive, but three songs in the crowd pull down the plastic sheets and the show becomes a complete melee, a sea of flailing limbs and heads hitting girders. Where he is amidst the crowd becomes quickly irrelevant, and the music becomes increasingly furiously industrial. By the end of the gig the crowd is the classic gasping, sweaty mess of any punk gig, but Yves Tumor has shown retrograde punk for the conservative Morris dance that it is. If this is the direction his next recorded project takes then there is the possibility he will alienate many fans of his past releases, but the desperate rage feels an honest response to the times and makes for a spectacular live show.
By Joe Creely