Review: ‘Skin’ by Flume

Reviewed by: Jason Harris

Like any profession things change over time, but sometimes not for the better. It could be seen as a harsh statement, but a vast majority of current Electronic music producers are releasing “bland soulless material”, undoing a lot of the innovative work by those who went before them.  

Thankfully there is hope on the horizon and even better than that he is an Aussie. I am talking about 24-year old Harley Streten, you may also know him as Flume. The Sydneysider has just released his second album Skin, to go along with his self-titled debut from just over three years ago. Despite the time gap in album releases, he has been a busy boy.  Among his remixing credits in the past few years are festival favourites Disclosure, Kiwi songstress Lorde and soul singer extraordinaire Sam Smith to name just three.

There is a vast difference between poor collaborations (producers Calvin Harris and David Guetta have made this into an artform) and ones of substance. Streten has definitely done his homework by gathering a diverse range of artists to work with on this release. While his 2012 debut showcased local artists, this album has true global appeal.

They include up and coming Hip Hop artists Vic Mensa and Allan Kingdom, British electronic duo AlunaGeorge, and Swedish acts Tove Lo and Little Dragon. There is also a nod to nostalgia with appearances from alternative rock legend Beck and Wu Tang Clan member Raekwon.

It is a pleasure to see a Perth connection to the album with local electronic artist Kucha represented featuring on two tracks (Smoke and Retribution & Numb and Getting Colder). It is hard to recall an Australian artist of any genre bringing so much talent together on the one release, and the end result is unsurprisingly eclectic.

It wouldn’t be fair to do a track-by-track analysis, I will leave that up to the music connoisseurs among you. What I will highlight are some of my personal favourites from the album. The album opener Felix and Wall Fuck are Flume at his finest, taking you on a journey and completely messing with on your mind. I also like the urban touch on the album with the rhymes and beats on the Allan Kingdom and Raekwon track You Know What sounding pretty fresh.

The chillout tune Innocence with AlunaGeorge is a real sleeper at the tail end of the album. The captivating vocals bring back memories of 90’s Massive Attack while the underlying beat carries a U.K Garage feel. The only thing missing from the album is another colab with Chet Faker, but I’m sure that will arise sometime in the future.

The Australian Music industry has a lot to be proud of late. While some artists look to use the platform of “reality shows” to edge their way into the industry, the artists that go about their work without fanfare are now getting their due.

This is a fine second release by Flume, and it will be fascinating to see where his musical career heads from here. If he keeps on producing albums like this, then the genre is in good hands and you can only hope that others follow his lead.