Bedroom producers are taking over the world. A cheap MIDI keyboard along with a cracked copy of Logic and you’ve got all you need to start making tunes. The problem with this is that most of the people who start up are going to be pretty terrible. Luckily, there will always be a handful that are undeniably gifted and deserve to be jetting across the world rather than holed up in a crummy bedroom. Flume is one of those guys.
Harley Streeton, the man behind Flume, first popped up on the radar when Shlohmo remixed a single of his, “Sleepless”, turning the original caffeine-fuelled tune into a dark, eerie monster of a track. Since then he’s laid pretty low, but the release of this self-titled debut album could be the turning point for the 20-year-old Aussie.
Album opener, “Sintra”, begins with a wonky synth line that almost seems like it’s falling out of time until a beastly kick drum and pitched-up vocal samples snap everything back into place. It’s obvious from the get-go that Flume possesses a keen ear for melody; vocal samples throughout the album are effortlessly weaved into the songs and tend to always twist and turn in unexpected directions, a fine example of this being the proceeding tune, “Holdin’ On”. Flume chops up an old soul sample but refuses to stick to one loop, opting instead for 5 or 6 different vocal parts all throughout just 2-and-a-half minutes. Another standout moment is “Change”, a track that boasts a frenetic and unpredictable vocal melody as well as a bouncy keyboard line that will almost certainly get stuck in your head for days to come.
As well as Flume’s own productions, there are five collaborative tracks on this album, the best being “Left Alone”, which features an exceptional vocal contribution from Chet Faker over a pulsating and groove-laden instrumental; all it needs is a good hook and it has the potential to be a genuinely great pop song. Elsewhere, there’s a feature from the rapper T.Shirt, and two downbeat numbers featuring George Maple and Moon Holiday.
Whilst none of the collaborations are necessarily weak, they all lack any truly memorable hooks or melodies, and there’s no denying that the highlights on this album come from Flume himself. Tracks such as “Warm Thoughts”—which is as beautiful as it is stimulating—and “Ezra” are truly brilliant productions that most 20-year-old bedroom producers could only dream of making. As previously mentioned, Flume’s seamless chopping of vocal samples is nearly mind-blowing at certain moments, and he knows exactly when and what to switch up in the songs to prevent the listener getting bored.
With this self-titled album, Harley Streeton has managed to carve his own style of hip-hop infused dance music that is experimental, creative and melodic yet easily accessible. If the Aussie can hone his collaborative work, and perhaps build a working relationship with a limited number of other musicians (*cough*Chet Faker*cough*), then he’ll be on the right track for what could be a truly stunning second album.