Flume - Flume 12"
Out of Stock
In an interview with Dazed Digital last year, Australian beatmaker Flume said, "Music essentially boils down to two main elements, rhythm and melody. I feel tones and textures often get overlooked, so I like to take my time finding the right sounds." The approach is working for the unassuming 21-year-old musician, otherwise known as Harley Streten: In November, his self-titled debut album and its single "Sleepless" beat One Direction for the number one position on Australia's charts. Streten celebrated by posting screenshots of the ensuing Twitter outrage.
He doesn't come off as a firestarter, though, or even all that different from other young electronic producers. He listens to J Dilla and Flying Lotus, started tinkering with production when he was barely a teenager, and still makes music in his parents' basement. While his approach to warped sound owes much to Dilla, Flume's aesthetic can be compared to SBTRKT's integration of R&B's bedside intimacy with distant beats and silky voiced female singers.
Streten explores his sonic palette with varying degrees of success on Flume. It's a little long on instrumental filler ("Space Cadet", "Warm Thoughts", "Ezra"), highlighting the fact that at this point in his career, samples and singers are Streten's most effective asset. Those features mask the fact that most of his songs are structured around samey, distracting background swoops that introduce climactic moments.
On "Sleepless", singer/model Jezzabell Doran is Streten's Jessie Ware, though he gives George Maple more of the spotlight on "Bring You Down". Her featherlight refrain "Hush now, you're standing on a landmine" is the centerpiece around which snares skitter and arpeggios twinkle, her voice soaring as Streten drops a judicious beat into the bridge. On "Insane", Streten distorts Australian singer Moon Holiday's lovely but affectless voice into a melodic foil to his throbbing builds and drops. Sometimes, neither the vocals nor backing can save the show: "On Top" features uninspired rapping from New York MC T.Shirt ("The night's forever young/ It's us that gets old") that falls flat over offbeat thuds and simulated siren wails.
Now and then, Streten strikes an unusually potent streak: On "Left Alone", a chorus persists throughout as if dogging guest Chet Faker's slurred pleas for solitude. Preceding track "Holdin' On" juxtaposes an old-soul male vocal sample and gospel echoes ("Mama, I love you!" "Yes I do!") with muffled keyboard stabs and serious swing for an effect that recallsJamie xx's Gil Scott-Heron remixes. Sinuous opener "Sintra" chops up vocals like James Blake's "CMYK", a foil for the calming, sweet "Star Eyes", which closes the album with a dream sequence made up of screwed bits of speech. On "What You Need", Streten makes a claim-- "Been waiting to love you/ ... I've got what you need"-- shiver so that it sounds like she's slowly dissolving into tears. With that kind of control over his songs and performers, Flume could easily evolve into a sought-after producer.