Flume knows how to make an understated entrance. The Sydney producer has been missing for a couple of years, ever since releasing the companion EPs to 2016’s Skin, his second album – and a world away from 2012’s self-titled album, which established the Australian as a pioneer of future bass, and would lay the groundwork for a mini-generation of Australian producers, as well as put Australian electronic music on the world map. Flume has proven time and time again he is a champion of unheralded artists (his 2016 Splendour in the Grass set put artists like REMI, Baro, Vera Blue and Jess Kent on one of the most sought-after stages in Australia) and he has a knack for picking the next big thing – or making it happen himself.
It’s no surprise, then, that his follow-up would be highly anticipated. Not one to make a fuss (after all, he did grow up near the beach), the mixtape announcement, in the form of a tweet, reads “Hi This Is Flume. I made a mixtape with some of my favorite artists. It’s 38 minutes of music, with a visualiser created by Jonathan Zawada. We hope you enjoy :)”. Hi This Is Flume is a mixtape that in some ways feels like a homage to his favourite artists – artists that we can only presume have helped shape the sound of the highly anticipated third album, which you would expect will be released this year, after he spent 2018 recording with artists like Damon Albarn, Nile Rodgers and many others.
This reference to his favourite artists permeate far beyond their allocated songs – you’d have been forgiven for thinking that this was a Flume x SOPHIE collaborative mixtape. The tape’s drums sound more industrial and metallic than they may in the past – a signature of SOPHIE’s sound. Such is the charm of Flume. This is guaranteed to be the introduction for many to SOPHIE – an artist that (in this writer’s opinion) released one of the best albums of last year – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES. The same goes for Slowthai, HWLS, Eprom, JPEGMAFIA and past collaborator Kuka – Flume has proven his ability to launch careers in the past (you only have to look at the example of Chet Faker, who while already on the rise, was a key benefactor of the ‘Flume boost’) and this mixtape feels like a prime example of that.
JPEGMAFIA is a highlight on the mixtape – Peggy, as he’s known to his fans released his fourth album, Veteran, last year and brought an energy that was oft-imitated, rarely replicated in the following months. His appearance on How To Build A Relationship is frenetic and arrogant, and in many ways sounds like the American counterpart to the emerging British rapper Slowthai on High Beams – the veteran and the student. Bass producer Eprom finds himself at the forefront of the mixtape, appearing on a remix of SOPHIE’s Is It Cold In The Water? as well as album closer Spring – and in the process, finds himself a whole new audience of people that will appreciate his music.
Flume’s music has also been strongly linked to his visuals, and this was more evident than ever, with the first (and only) warning of the mixtape landing with his mixtape visualiser. Part music video, part visual expression of what the music sounds like – Flume’s music and his visuals form two halves of the art that Flume creates, and the further focus feels like a taste of what’s to come – looking forward, rather than trying to recapture the magic. The visuals were produced in close collaboration with Jonathan Zawada, who produced the art for Skin – and around the release of Skin, said about the album cover, "it's so funny that when music is put alongside the work, suddenly people see the art in a different way as well.” The visuals for the mixtape are yet another collaboration featured on the mixtape – if not directly on the songs, they are intended to inform the reaction to the music.
Hi This Is Flume feels directly intended to be an evolution – no more apparent than by the naming of the second song, Ecdysis – the moulting of skin for many invertebrates. Flume clearly never wants to stop evolving as an artist, and his releases to date prove that he is in no danger of becoming stale. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Flume said, “I just want to find people who are doing something different and open to working with different sounds and unconventional beats and rigid open-minded people who have something to say.” Each artist on this mixtape bring in their own elements that stretch far beyond their contributions, and in many ways, that is one of Flume’s greatest strengths. Not only will you find a new side to Flume when you listen to this mixtape – you might just discover your next favourite artist.