Harley Streten, otherwise known as Flume, has never shied away from an ambitious sound. Leaping onto the scene in 2013, Flume immediately captured hearts with his unique remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me,” and has never played it safe since. His new mixtape, Hi, This is Flume, marks another step in the DJ’s path of experimentation and bold production, filled with creative musical atmospheres and mesmerizing beats front–to–back.
“Ecdysis," the first song, is a perfect introduction to the mixtape. The song itself is fairly short, like many songs on the mixtape, clocking in at just one minute and forty–five seconds. However, the shortness of the song means Flume packs a shocking array of production into an extremely short period of time. He varies between glittering production interspersed with thick, almost trap–like drum kicks and electronic warps. The result is jarring, as the production fluctuates between atmospheric sounds and a quick reverberation back down to earth when the deeper bass comes crashing in.
The subsequent track, “High Beams,” shows how Flume’s production can run circles around sub–par vocalists. The featured rapper, slowthai, ruins what is arguably the most well–produced track on the mixtape. It makes us wonder how truly excellent the song could have been had Flume chosen to make it an instrumental, or—better yet—brought back one of the features from his previous album, Skin, such as Vince Staples, Alunageorge, or Tove Lo. Regardless of slowthai’s mediocre performance, Flume’s production on “High Beams” should not be overlooked as another brilliant example of a sound fluctuating between heavy–hitting imposing beats and glittery, near–ethereal sounds.
If “High Beams” could have potentially been the best song on the mixtape, the song it would have had to replace from the top spot is “Jewel." Flume masterfully weaves melodic sounds together into what feels like an almost–mystical environment of synthesized melodies. Flume’s elysian soundscapes in “Jewel” are similar to the mixtape's remix of “Is It Cold In The Water?,” featuring SOPHIE’s vocals and Ephrom’s co–production. Flume yet again balances dreamlike production and haunting vocals with hard–hitting electronic drums, crafting a stark contrast unlike any other in his previous works.
While “Jewel” and “Is It Cold In The Water?” represent Flume’s ability to mix soft and hard electronic chords, his production on “How to Build a Relationship,” featuring JPEGMAFIA, is purely cold–blooded. Flume creates a perfect beat for JPEGMAFIA’s surgical raps in yet another contender for best song on the mixtape, and once the kicking beat really falls into place about fifteen seconds in, both Flume’s production and JPEGMAFIA’s raps are impossible to ignore.
“Vitality” marks one of the most bizarre production pieces on the entire record, a track which combines elements of what seem like classic hip–hop beats and distorted percussive instrumentation. Clocking in at just one minute and forty seconds long, “Vitality” is one of the many songs that is short, but extremely deep in sound and melody. Flume manages to squeeze something unique out of every second. Similarly, “Daze 22.00” marks another jarring contrast between haunting music and sharp electronic drums.
“Spring,” featuring Eprom, is another brilliant example of quick–shifting sounds between technological percussions and choral harmonies. As “Spring” is the final song, it leaves the listener with a poignant impression of Flume’s goal for the sound of the album.
Flume truly achieved his goal for an experimental sound on Hi, This is Flume, rather than aiming for commercial appeal. No track on Hi, This is Flume will be a Billboard Hot 100 hit, and that may be exactly what Flume was going for—an instrumental challenge rather than an easy way to top the charts. In doing so, he created a unique and memorable mixtape that adds another notch in his ever–growing collection of distinctive and innovative works.