It's been absolutely insane watching the seemingly infinite trajectory of FLUME. For context, Purple Sneakers hosted some of Flume's very first shows at our clubs across town, so his journey has a bit of a special place in our hearts.
His last release was 2016's smash record Skin. Despite the record coming out in a period where electronic music has been at its most diverse sonically, it's remained persistent in its memorability and is a testament to Flume and the lasting nature of his sound.
He's been quietly chipping away at new music whilst living in LA, so yesterday's announcement of his new mixtape, Hi This Is Flume, came seemingly out of nowhere. The best part? The mixtape is out today.
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The mixtape as a medium has historically tended to be more of a hip-hop format, but the last decade or so has seen electronic music lend the fluid format to plenty of seminal releases. You don't have to look too far to see that the flexibility of the format has been used by a bunch of local favourites, most recently the NLV Records crew opting to put out mixtapes rather than records. Kota Banks' Prize, Strict Face's New Racer and Swick's Court Composer all use the mixtape format to free themselves from the linear nature (and expectation) of a record, and instead opt for a body of work built on sonic diversity and the ability to basically do whatever the hell you want free from the shackles of convention.
Flume's decision to put out these tracks in a mixtape form feels like the right thing to do as musically, there's a hell of a lot to unpack here. Waves of collaborators weave in and out of the sonic wonderland with immense ease, and the fluidity of genres explored remains unparalleled. To sum up the mixtape, there's a reason why Flume's one of the biggest and brightest in the world right now, and this body of work shows why.
'Hi This Is Flume' kicks it off, a clusterfuck of radio sting intro's provided by Flume himself layered atop one another to create a vortex of dissonance. It's the perfect intro to the mixtape, literally telling you that 'Hi, this is Flume' in case you didn't get the memo.
'High Beams' with HWLS and slowthai takes collaboration to new heights. Bringing together the frenzied rap style of slowthai and the bass boosted breadth of Kit-Pop and Ta-ku AKA HWLS with Flume's heavy hip-hop influence, it's a chaotic kick to the senses, throwing us straight in.
'Jewel' kicks us in the gut while 'Dreamtime' lays us down and soothes us into oblivion, coaxing us to lose ourselves in the lush backdrop.
Flume and bass master Eprom turn it up to 11 on their glitchy remix of SOPHIE's 'Is It Cold In The Water?' They've taken it to new heights, injecting some of that LA energy into the UK producer's Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides track.
JPEGMAFIA hits it hard on 'How To Build A Relationship', Flume's grimiest track to date. 'Voices' with SOPHIE and longtime collaborator KUČKA sees KUČKA's vocals chopped, skewed and echoed to create the premise for the track. The coming together of Flume and SOPHIE on this particular track sees both producers pushing each other beyond the scope of each of their exploration, and emerging with something gobsmackingly unheard of.
There's a quietly unassuming run of one to two minute tracks from track 11, 'Mud' to 16, 'Amber' that gives us little glimpses into styles both adopted and also potentially abandoned by the producer. Who knows! But one thing is for certain; the mixtape format gives him the freedom to do so.
Hi This Is Flume feels like unexplored territory. From start to finish, the record bounces between hip-hop, bass and a zillion other electronic music genres, but never once is bogged down by convention. The record takes us through hyper-glitzed hip-hop, syncopated percussion, dreamy pads and some of the best collaborations the electronic music world has seen for a while.
Flume's journey has never been about looking back. His sound continually evolves while in tandem, he continues to innovate.
Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF