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Album of the Week: Flume

Atmospheric summer beats coming out of Sydney...

Artist: Flume
Album: Flume
Label: Transgressive Records
Release Date: 18/2/13

In Australia, Harley Streten (Flume) is a pretty big deal. Three originals and one remix of his made it into the coveted Triple J Hottest 100 of 2012 and his first self titled LP debuted at number one in the Australian iTunes charts - only to be beaten by One Direction in the physical sales charts (them's the breaks). In a couple of years, the twenty-one year old producer has garnered huge critical following and generally large portions of goodwill from almost anyone who listens to modern music. But Australia is really, really, far away and mostly desert (poor acoustics), so sometimes it takes some time for the rest of the world to hear the sounds its people are making. 2013 is the year that word has got out about Flume on a serious scale, boosted by his January tour of Europe and yesterday's UK/European release of the album that didn't completely beat One Direction (back into the abyss).

The album is characterised by prominent raw percussion, clipped samples, smooth waves of summer synthesizers and those digital-chipmonk-serenading-in-an-echoey-hall type vocals. Don't look so confused, you know the ones. The popular singles are still my favourites: the exciting punch of Holding On, the melancholy of Left Alone, the cyclical hypnosis of Sleepless and the relentless, chugging pulse of Insane. UK influences are strong; think Rustie with a hint of Disclosure, then give it some weed to chill it out and put it somewhere in the sun.

With this album Flume has managed to appeal to the pop and RnB sphere, the underground dance sphere and, thanks in part to a timely collaboration with Chet Faker, collected a swathe of indie fans too. He's part of a growing number of artists who are providing us with some commercially viable dance music with wide popular appeal, without getting caught in the big room house juggernaut which has dominated popular radio for the last few years.

He's cut up his 50 minute album into a generous 15 track offering, but I'm not convinced it works. Not all the unusually short (for dance music) tracks are fully developed and unique ideas; better to have dedicated those minutes to expanding Change or Holding On. Sure, those songs are just my preferences and others might choose differently, but that's the risk the artist has to take. It feels like Flume hedged his bets a bit when it came time to choose what made the LP cut.

This is one criticism of an album that really has a lot of soul. It's satisfying, relaxing and fun, and sure to soundtrack this coming European summer as perfectly as it did the Australian one reaching its end.


01. Sintra
02. Holdin On
03. Left Alone ft. Chet Faker
04. Sleepless ft. Jezzabell Doran
05. On Top ft. T.Shirt
06. Stay Close
07. Insane ft. Moon Holiday
08. Change
09. Ezra
10. More Than You Thought
11. Space Cadet
12. Bring you Down ft. George Maple
13. Warm Thoughts
14. What You Need
15. Star Eyes

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