Flume, a.k.a Harley Edward Streten, was discovered in his teens in Sydney, where he was born and raised, in an original artists competition held by Australian indie recording company Future Classic, which has also signed artists such as Chet Faker and Flight Facilities. Although we didn’t know it three years ago, Flume’s incredible self-titled debut LP with Future Classic was only a glimpse of what the eclectic DJ/Producer is capable of. Flume LP peaked at the top spot on the Australian charts and was certified double-platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association. After working together on the Flume LP, Flume collaborated once again with Chet Faker on the 2013 EP Lockjaw, bringing us some of Flume’s best work yet in their hit record “Drop The Game.” The long anticipation for the Aussie musician’s sophomore effort is now over and was clearly well worth the wait.
Flume’s self entitled debut album signified an artist defining his unique style through each and every song on the tracklist, but it was “safe” compared to Skin. Skin is an album that has everything from hit songs (“Never Be Like You,” “Say It”) , Hip Hop influenced tracks (“Lost It,” “Smoke & Retribution”) to experimental records (“Wall Fuck,” “Helix”). Add to that a wide range of features from artists such as Beck(Grammy Award Winner), Tove Lo, Kai, and Vince Staples, and Skin has everything Flume needs to show us the weird places he wants to take us through his music. Where Flume was an introduction to his style, Skin reaches deep down inside of Streten and shows us the capable hit-maker he is, even when he pushes the boundaries of what we consider ‘music’ to the absolute limit.
Future Bass stems from trap, juke, and even the post-dubstep movement — all clearly apparent on Skin. After releasing a preview mash-up of the album on SoundCloud, Flume released four singles from the album. The first was “Never Be Like You,” which features Toronto-based singer-songwriter Kai. It was an instant hit, becoming Flume’s first chart-topper in Australia and peaking at 6 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic chart.
The following week Flume released “Smoke & Retribution,” which is the best song on the album, and I’ll tell you why. The hot-and-cold beat matched with the male-versus-female vocals, from Vince Staples and Kučka respectively, epitomize the hard/soft pacing apparent throughout the album. Just when everything seems to cool off, Flume blasts us again with heavy Future Bass. Vince Staples absolutely kills it on the track, shouting lyrics about love and love-lost, life and death, over Flume’s enormous up-and-down bass-heavy beat, reflecting the ‘human heart versus machine’ theme that manifests itself in the listener’s mind over the course of the album.
Next up, Flume released “Wall Fuck,” a masterpiece in experimental trap music that shook my car the first time I heard it. Every beat, every sound is distorted, stretched, echoed, creating not just a song, but an atmosphere of sound. For his final single before the album’s release, Flume dropped “Say It,” his collaboration with Swedish-singer Tove Lo, whose 2014 album, Queen of the Clouds, gained her a strong following with songs such as “Habits” and “Talking Body.” Like “Never Be Like You,” the song found instant popularity amongst fans, with its mixture of bass and pop music soaring behind Tove Lo’s no-holds-barred style of songwriting.
Another track that is a must-have on your playlist is the closing song “Tiny Cities” featuring Beck, who just added three more Grammys, including Album of the Year, to his long and successful career for his most recent project Morning Phase. The song is a weird one in that it has two parts, separated by an eerie-sounding clicking that comes just as Beck’s voice fades out, followed by a beat-drop full of huge kicks and reverberating synth chords that go perfectly behind Beck’s echoing voice. The song serves as a perfect finale to an extremely emotional album.
Other notable songs and features include “Lose It” with Vic Mensa, “Like Water” featuring MNDR, and “Take a Chance” featuring Little Dragon. I first came to know Vic Mensa through his song “Down On My Luck” and fell in love. When I saw him at last year’s Mad Decent Block Party in Brooklyn, I found out the diversity the young Chicago-native is capable of and he presents it again on Skin. “Like Water” feels like a pick-up where Flume left off on his last LP, much like his song “More Than You Thought,” so if you loved Flume, this is sure to be a highlight for you. Just listen to the drop on “Take A Chance,” accompanied by soothing vocals from Little Dragon singer Yukimi Nagano and you’ll have it on repeat all day contemplating how Flume just took over the Future Bass world.
Harley Streten(Flume) now has two albums full of some of the best electronic music to come out in the last decade. His production shines through, even when featuring some of the most talented singers and musicians in the world. Every track has Flume’s signature sound stamped on the track. After listening to his Hip Hop tracks with Vince Staples and Vic Mensa, as well as his earlier work with New York-rapper T-Shirt titled “On Top,” it’s only a matter of time before major rappers start to gravitate toward the 24-year-old for his production talents. With recent collaborations between A$AP Mob and Skrillex, as well as Kanye West with Daft Punk and TNGHT on Yeezus, which have had so much success, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Flume move up to working with artists of this caliber by the end of the year. Either way, Skin stands on its own and Flume’s ideology to never shy away from an interesting sound, weird or not, has brought him incredible success and made him one of the most celebrated artists in the electronic music world.