Flume 'Flume'

(Future Classic)

There are a few sounds that define and typify the warmer Australian months. Waves gently lapping at the shore; the constant hiss of snags being sizzled; that infuriating hum a single mosquito makes while buzzing around your bedroom at 3am; the delicate clink of cold beers about to be guzzled poolside; anywhere and everywhere those burning rays of sunshine plant their golden kiss.

They’re pleasantly ubiquitous, these sounds, and they seem to bring with them as much emotional warmth as they do physical: part nostalgia for the fun of summers past; part optimism for whatever may linger tantalisingly on the horizon; wholly agreeable. On the back of young Sydney-based producer Harley Streten’s first full-length offering, it seems that Flume (both as album and artist) will be added to that illustrious list, taking place in the pantheon of great Australian summer noises for at least a little while.

And with good cause. Because Flume delicately invokes memories of fondness for incidents and artists that have been dotingly tucked into the folds of memory, while simultaneously hinting at the promise of something more exciting twinkling just ahead. Streten oscillates here between lethargic, syrupy beat collages in the vein of something like a futuristic sounding J Dilla, and bass-heavy detonations that seem fuelled by the same innovative concoction that powers forward thinking electronic acts like Sepalcure or Machinedrum.

‘Star Eyes’, ‘Stay Close’, and ‘Warm Thoughts’ all stagger along with off-kilter drum patterns that teeter eternally on the precipice of collapse, perforated intermittently by shimmery wisps of vocal samples. On ‘On Top’, ‘What You Need’, and ‘More Than You Thought’ the rumbling low-end takes precedence, as Streten nods subtly towards UK bass aesthetics. ‘Sleepless’, ‘Insane’, ‘Bring You Down’ and ‘Left Alone’ provide sugary breezes of pop levity while showcasing Flume’s ability to play the background as well as the fore, deftly pulling the production strings under vocal contributions from Jezzabell Doran, Moon Holiday, George Maple and Chet Faker. This stylistic multiplicity comes as no surprise. Flume has always been impressively versatile in his productions, having moved from the navel-gazing introspective pastures of his earlier remix work on New Navy’s ‘Zimbabwe’, to the warped thump of his more recent re-work of Hermitude’s ‘Hyperparadise’.

It’s that flexibility that sits right at the heart of what makes Flume such an imposing release: everything seems fully realised, every stylist excursion so wholly worthwhile. Sepia-toned hazes of down tempo glow-fi to billow out over balmy evenings; gooey swathes of sun-drenched synthesizers that seem purpose built for swooping out of radios and down over pool parties; the pre-requisite kind of bass driven bumps and bangs that will get bodies sweating throughout the festival season.

It’s the perfect soundtrack for summer. But more than that, Flume is the sound of an exciting young producer running hot.

Elliott Grigg

profile of Elliott-Spencer