Flume – Flume [Album Review]

Flume has had a huge week. On top of returning from a short tour in the States and turning 21, Harley Streten just had his debut album released. The 12 months of hard work Flume put into his productions paid off – his talent shines radiantly in this beauty of an album.

I’ve been giddy about this LP since I heard Flume’s remixes for numerous Aussie bands (The Aston Shuffle, New Navy, and Hermitude to name a few) and the mere 3 originals he released about a year ago. Back then I thought I knew how awesome this debut album was going to be, but now I realize I couldn’t even fathom its greatness. After hearing the album in its entirety many times, I can’t emphasize how much Flume’s debut album exceeded my expectations.

The album is a fusion of modern electronic downtempo music with old-school hip hop beats. There’s nothing quite like the combination of new and old, and Flume’s results are ear-melting. The stuff that comes out of Flume’s head is mind-boggling in its soothing simplicity. From the great syncopated rhythm that just screams “bounce” in Sinatra to the well-produced “wa-wa” synth in More Than You Thought to the amazingly detuned melodic line in Star Eyes, Flume’s fantastic ideas are out in full display in this album. Be careful though, it’s easy to gloss over the subtleties such as the quick uprising synths at 2:02 in Insane as well as the panning rattle and the gong hit in More Than You Thought during the first few listens.

Flume’s production power goes hand in hand with his talent to create new organic material within each song. In fact, this is one of the aspects of Flume’s album that impressed me greatly. Unlike many producers these days who simply repeat the buildup and drop twice or thrice in a track, every track in Flume’s album has been fully fleshed out with new ideas popping up constantly. Take Insane as an example. The intro has an ambiguous mood, broken by the sweet and melancholic chord progression at 0:20, both of which don’t return in the track in their original forms. Instead, Flume adds new ideas and instruments to the original chord progression throughout the track to force you to listen to its entirety. In terms of production, Flume uses one brilliant technique to breathe musical life to his tracks: vocal manipulation. It can be heard throughout the album and some great examples include the vocals in the chorus of Insane, as well as the chipmunk vocals in Sleepless and Stay Close. Not many producers these days take advantage of using the human voice for something other than lyrics, and Flume’s manipulations sound fresh and imaginative.

The moods in Flume’s album ranges, so there’s something for everyone. A couple mournful tracks featuring Chet Faker and George Maple, chiller instrumental tracks such as Erza and Warm Thoughts, and even a great pump-up track embodied in On Top.

Seeing Flume has been blowing up recently by performing with acts like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and The XX and with tracks like Sleepless and his remix of HyperParadise, I’m expecting his fan base to grow exponentially after this phenomenal release. It’s simply a piece of art you shouldn’t be missing in your collection. Support the up-and-coming producer and purchase the album on iTunes. Follow Flume on Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitterflumemusic.com

Extra! Extra! Check out Beardforce’s remix of Sleepless: