We doubt there’s many albums more hotly anticipated in the blog world than the debut full-length from today’s antipodean recommendation. Take a look at his Soundclouds and you get that irritating stutter of a million comments firing off as the wave moves along the play line. The plays he’s racked up on those Soundclouds are counted in the 10s and sometimes 100s of thousands. His debut single, Sleepless, earned him over 750,000 plays on Youtube, which may be in part because of the enormous buzz, but also because giant publications, such as Rolling Stone, got behind it. Not bad considering he claims to have “smashed the song out in one day“. Even his new tune, Holdin’ On - which he only uploaded onto Soundcloud last week – has already clocked up over 100,000 plays. He’s topped 35,000 followers on Facebook and every time a new track is made available you can expect dozens of blogs to write him up and for him to zoom up the Hype Machine chart. Aside from all this extraordinary buzz, the biggest reason that this anticipated album has us salivating so much is that he’s kept us waiting for it so long. Well, at least since he first started making tunes, aged just 13 years old (yes, you read that right). Now he’s 20, he’s ready. And we’re ready too.
Earlier this week we received the promo copy of his self-titled debut album, which is out on November 9th on Future Classic, and we can confirm that the young man, Harley Streten, the Sydney-based solo artist better know as Flume, is going to be absolutely fucking huge. Not only does he write music like he’s re-invented every genre, but he’s re-invented the blender in which he’s poured them all. This is future music and the future’s just been re-cast. Flume’s not just whacked an entirely new junction in music’s landscape, he’s already decided which path that we all need to go down. Yep, everybody needs to follow Flume. And they will. They already do judging by those early numbers. The talented young bastard’s even got a set of Justin Beiber good-looks, ensuring that he can enjoy the posters as well as the pedestals that he’s already getting placed upon. Alongside Twinsy, (whom The Recommender also hopes to blog very soon), plus a handful of other artists, Flume is spearheading an exciting new crop of Australian talent. His home country and particularly his home city of Sydney will know him from his blinding live sets, often supporting established names, such as, The XX, Nero and TEED. Americans are also about to be hit by his tidal wave of buzz as he’s listed as playing eight shows at CMJ, including Gorilla vs Bear and The Windish stages, taking the festival’s claim to be a ‘music marathon’ somewhat literally. Even with so many shows, we expect every single one to be rammed.
Why such excitement? Well, it’s his ability to meander through contemporary genres and not just seem accomplished and comfortable, but he actually makes each one more accessible. He avoids any pitfalls associated with each genre, instead making highly polished electronic productions. Take the genre of dance music, which is awesome to get lost in, particularly when inside a club, but it occasionally suffers from the monotony that repetition can bring, especially if it lacks vocals, yet Flume achieves the same sense of abandonment and involves vocals masterfully. Hip hop is prone to over-indulgence, allowing it’s self-obsession to push over into crass gloss, yet Flume ignites the same heavy beats and immaculate productions whilst avoiding any garish over-confidence. Minimalist electronica can sometimes seem so sparse it dissipates into nothingness, and it rarely lifts ones mood or can be easily enjoyed in the company of others, yet Flume places every sound in it’s perfect architectural position, forging strong, enjoyable songs that have broad appeal. Dubstep regularly suffers from being a bit too same-y, often lacking ideas, and when it tries something different people quickly accuse it of no longer being dubstep, yet Flume has evolved it into a palatable force that is packed with invention. Contemporary soul music only seems appropriate after dark and glo-fi often marries up well with a stoned afternoon, yet Flume mixes soul with hazy glo-fi in a manner so skilled it will suit anyone, anywhere, any time.
We would happily run through a review of each track on the debut album, but seeing at how it runs through a healthy 14 tracks in length we would be here all day, so although we’re happy to discuss a handful, you will have to take our word for it that it is a consistent ride with a multitude of stunning highlights. As an established remixer he seems to have brought the idea of collaboration into his album. We always said that our favourite dance music involved vocals, but the way Flume stirs voices into his electronics is nothing short of astonishing. Voices become instruments delicately placed with Nasa precision, occasionally sampled so weirdly that they come in subtle swirls in and out of the song in ambient waves. It’s as if he’s actually found a way to plant voices in the back of your head. The break half-way through Insane which introduces the vocals of Moon Holiday is so perfectly beautiful it sounds as clean and polished as a toilet seat made by Steve Jobs – it’s absolutely spotless. He doesn’t just allow her to ‘sing her bit’ either, but he also samples her as a new sound raising and dipping the pitch, showcasing the sublime control this artist has over the elements in his songs. Everything has a place, and it’s perfectly positioned there, as if he has some savant level of ‘production OCD’.
More Than You Thought slows to an almost stationary dubstep wobble, but the voices he’s selected seem almost like the ghost of an African chant, showing how this man has absolutely zero boundaries and a million influences. Bring You Down (feat. George Marple), is more pop than anything else, with a melodic, lullaby mantra at its pretty centre, seeming like Aluna George but with a bit more glossy make-up. What You Need sounds like something Kate Bush would have written were she 20 years old in 2012. It has the late-night soul of Jessie Ware, were you to watch her perform in slow-motion. It’s one of the album’s most stunning highlights as you hear a vocal sample lilt the line, “I got what you need, all night“. The list of other wonderful songs continues and the plethora of magical touches throughout each of them makes this young man seem like a king already, King Midas. By shuffling through the genres like he’s winding through them on his iPod, he’s created an album that isn’t just free of pigeon holes, but he’s taught each and every genre how it can be done. This is the Mozart of modern pop, with genius shown from a young age, a masterful confidence in a multitude of skills and an extraordinary ability to surprise and impress at every turn. Nobody sounds more contemporary than this artist, and although he seems precisely where we would hope music to be in 2012, he actually sounds more like an entirely new template for the future. (MB)
FLUME – HOLDIN’ ON
FLUME – OVER YOU feat. JEZZABELL DORAN
ONRA – THE ANTHEM (FLUME REMIX)