Australian producer Harley Streten, better known as Flume, showed a range of expressive goals and styles on his feature-heavy second studio album Skin, released late last month. Along with eccentric solo tracks, he balances the album well with female vocalist laden tracks and hip-hop songs of a wide array of tempos and structures.
In Skin's rap tracks, Flume shows an impressive ability to match lyric and voice styles with specific breaks and drops. Featuring rising Chicago star Vic Mensa, Lose It bangs in the chorus with cuts, delays, and a Future Bass drop. You Know includes the most Gangster Rap-esque verse from rap icon and former Wu-Tang member, Raekwon, as well as an impressive drop over an effectively choppy verse from Allan Kingdom. In Smoke & Retribution, Flume's dramatic rattling and echoes link the soft chorus from female vocalist Kučka with the rock hard lyricism of Long Beach rapper Vince Staples.
Kučka is the only artist to feature twice on the project, also taking the vocals on Numb & Getting Colder. She is one of many female singer's on Skin, including Kai on Never Be Like You, Little Dragon on Take A Chance, MNDR on Like Water, and Tove Lo on Say It, potentially the most commercially successful track on the album. Unlike the mix of beats Flume uses to enhance his hip-hop songs, he sticks to an effective juxtaposition of high note vocals and deep, heavy drops on the album’s lady-driven work.
Where Flume's personal creative style lies in the few solo tracks found in the belly of Skin. His decision to stray from the structure most of the feature tracks rely on, allows him to explore erratic sound structures on tracks such as Pika, 3, and Free. Though the creativity of these tracks is admirable, the irregularity can go too far at times before returning to enjoyable consistency. Wall Fuck, like the album's other solo tracks, includes a strange mix of warped vocals and unusual timbres, each extensively repeated until the track, somehow, finds a melody showing Flume's capacity to maintain creative freedom on a commercial project.
Artists explore various styles and phases throughout their career. Flume's chaotic style is oddly symmetric and acts as a great indicator of his ability to adapt, and the continued success he is sure to find.
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Written by: Aaron Nelson