Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape) – Review

Caleb Scanlon

After going through 2018 without releasing any new music, Flume (Harley Streten) has blessed his fans with his latest project – Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape).

It’s Flume at his uncompromising best. It seems the team at Future Classic have said to him ‘here, go and make something we’ve never heard before’. And by handing him the reins, he has steered his music into new frontier.

The album’s second song is titled ‘Ecdysis’ which means to shed one’s skin. It’s a clever little easter-egg for fans of his Grammy-winning album in 2016, Skin, signalling a change of direction for Flume. On Skin, the instrumental songs (Free, Wall Fuck) were cushioned in-between commercial-friendly songs (Say It, Never Be Like You) which brought the widespread acclaim the album received. With the exception of How To Build A Relationship and High Beams, you’re unlikely to hear many of these songs across your radio waves or at the nightclubs. These songs are more abrasive and unnerving, making it less palatable for your casual music fan.

The majority of the songs are instrumental and under 3 minutes long. On first listen, they sound a little jarring because of the unconventional production, but often the albums that you don’t quite understand or are uncertain about on first listen end up being the best. After a few listens with a good pair of headphones on, Hi This Is Flume grows on you. Find a comfy chair, put on a nice pair of cans, and be blown away by the vast layers of sounds. You can hear every clink, zing, twang and grind, and appreciate how meticulous Streten is with his production. One of the mixtapes highlights is on the track Voices; the ethereal voice of Sydney-based Kučka circulates around your head and it’s mesmerising.

Flume also teams up with experimental rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA on How To Build A Relationship for one of the most playful tracks. Self-proclaimed ‘jungle-juice music’, the song’s production is heavy and thumping, while JPEGMAFIA raps with freedom that is at times serious, and other times humorous.  Another highlight from the album is 71m3, where Flume showcases his ability to warp vocal samples for a minute twenty of pure bliss.  

Along with KUCKA and JPEGMAFIA, the album features UK Grime rapper ‘slowthai’, electronic producer SOPHIE, and bass-music producer Eprom. Each artist is considered experimental in their own right, furthering the creative freedom that Flume already brings to the mixtape.

On the first few listens, it’s difficult to distinguish each song because of the natural flow between songs, which goes without saying, you should definitely listen to this album in sequential order. Hi This Is Flume flows for 38 minutes with each song blending into the one before it, transcending the often jumbled structure of traditional hip-hop mixtapes.

From the album’s straightforward album title, to the 48 hour warning of its release, he is unconcerned by the noise that surrounds him. Even by labelling it a mixtape and offering it for free, he seems to suggest that it shouldn’t be taken as seriously as his first two albums.

The mixtape is complimented by an equally jaw-dropping visualiser by Jonathan Zawanda that spans over 43 minutes of experimental videography. The video and music go hand-in-hand as the visuals are just as experimental as the music. I mean, when was the last time we saw an artist create a 44 minute music video?

If you have a spare 44 minutes, you should definitely check out the visualiser. It enriches the music, while also being a visual pleasure to watch. You can melt away and absorb the wave of mesmerizing special effects and watch Harley drive around in outback Australia in his ‘Pimp-My-Ride’ car. There is a moment half-way through the video which lasts roughly four minutes where the music stops as Harley fills up the car with fuel, as if to ask, ‘are you still paying attention?’.

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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