Flume opens his latest release with an acknowledgement of his massive popularity and all that goes into it. “Hi this is Flume, and you’re listening to my new single. Tap the artwork to listen…” is all that can be clearly understood before a multitude of Flumes begin repeating the Spotify-esque advertising mantra. As soon as this business is taken care of, Flume launches into his least mainstream-friendly work to date. Ironically, it’s his best.
Don’t let the title of the mixtape give you the impression that it’s hastily slopped together. Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape) is the Australian artist’s most developed, inventive, and complete release of his career. It follows his 2016 album Skin, which, propelled by mega-hits “Never Be Like You” and “Say it” as well as a crew of top-notch featured artists, earned him a place in the upper echelon of electronic artists and a Grammy for “Best Dance/Electronic Album” to boot. Flume succeeded on Skin by toeing the line between pop and experimental electronic music. While this strategy created phenomenal singles, the album experience as a whole suffered. On Hi This is Flume, he drops any attempts to appeal to mainstream standards and dives deep into uncharted waters.
Past features with radio-friendly artists like Tove Lo and AlunaGeorge are swapped out to make room for some of the most cutting-edge artists in modern music. SOPHIE appears twice on the mixtape, once as a feature and once on the Flume and Eprom remix of her 2018 track “Is It Cold In The Water?” The pairing between the two is entirely natural and their out-of-left-field styles of production work hand-in-hand. JPEGMAFIA appears to be right in his element as he raps over the jittery instrumental on “How To Build A Relationship.” UK up-and-comer slowthai delivers a vibrant performance over the album’s hardest hitting track “High Beams,” with production help from HWLS.
Throughout Hi This Is Flume, Flume seems to challenge every established aspect of modern electronic music. Sharp percussive elements hit when they feel like it. Quivering vocal chops are panned in and out sporadically. Several times, melodic scales are thrown right out the window. The main elements holding all this chaos are large sweeping chords running underneath the entire mixtape.
Despite this aural anarchy, Flume is able to string tracks together fluidly to create a cohesive listening experience top to bottom. The piercing saw synths of “MUD” flow effortlessly into the bright arpeggio of “Upgrade,” and the piano and strings of the mixtape’s calmest track “Daze 22.00” disintegrate into the madness of “Amber,” the mixtape’s most absurd song, without missing a beat.
Flume could have easily elected to use his star power to recruit the top names in pop and make something more radio-friendly in no time. Instead, Hi This Is Flume breaks boundaries for modern electronic music and pushes the genre forward in new and exciting ways. While unconventional production isn’t new to Flume, Hi This Is Flume is by far his most adventurous and riskiest release. The risk paid off massively.