★★★★☆

FLUME/FACEBOOK | Shying away from centering lyrics and other conventional elements of songwriting, Australian producer Flume, above, puts his usual aesthetic to the side as he focuses on edgy songs that challenge industry expectations in his new mixtape.

Australian electronic music producer Flume is back with a new mixtape, titled “Hi This Is Flume.”

Ever since his 2012 hits “Holdin On” and “Sleepless,” Flume dove headfirst into the mainstream of electronic beats and has remained a key player in the electronica scene. However, it has been three years since his last album, “Skin,” which has left his listeners hungry for more.

“Hi This Is Flume” might not be what fans expected to hear. The album is a stand-alone in Flume’s discography as an extremely experimental creation. The songs are hardly separate, blending smoothly, which almost forces the listener to go through the songs in order.

The vibe of the mixtape as a whole is quite abstract; the songs consist more of razor sharp beats and indistinct sounds than a melody and lyrics, a deviation from what Flume’s songs traditionally do.

The opening track alone is joltingly unfamiliar; it is 28 seconds of Flume’s voice saying, “Hi, this is Flume,” which layers over itself and maniacally draws the listener into Flume’s mind. The rap verses on tracks such as “High Beams,” featuring slowthai, and “How to Build a Relationship,” featuring JPEGMAFIA, cut through the haze of the background noise nicely.

The two rappers deliver clean verses, which amplify the effects of the psychedelic sounds while tethering them to something concrete for the listener. The album as a whole fuses well despite the varying beats used in each of the songs, which creates a hectic and out-of-this-world atmosphere.

His exploration into experimental beat mixing and sound incorporation is entrancing, with not all of his vibe lost in his newfound style. There is just enough of his distinct and dreamy synths in the tracks to appeal to his fans while still offering them something completely different.

Even the album cover artwork stands out in his discography; his other albums are in shades of blues, purples and grays. Flume’s latest album cover, however, depicts the headlight of a bright orange and blue car with 1970s-era stickers and a man staring out over a cliff, and is just as eclectic and abstract as its music.

Flume intended for this mixtape to stand in contrast with his previous ones, and its title decries that this is who he is as an artist, or at the very least, that this is the style he wishes to pursue. It is by no means a mixtape of hits, but the beauty is that it is not meant to be; it is countercultural in every way.

Even in its starkness, there is a mystique about “Hi This Is Flume” that does not get lost in the aggressive beats. All of Flume’s emphasis is on his beats, and everything else is solely an accessory.

“Hi This Is Flume” stresses how important it is for artists to follow their creative process so that artistic integrity is maintained and listeners can be exposed to new audio experiences like this mixtape.

The few lyrics of the mixtape seem to reinforce the focal point of self establishment and originality while rejecting mainstream lifestyles that obsess over social media, money and ambition.

In “High Beams,” JPEGMAFIA raps, “Could be anyone / that wouldn’t be me” and “Need a safe line and a life in the caption / why you live for insta?” Flume addresses the dilemma between pursuing yourself and fitting nicely into the aesthetic that society deems desirable.

The rest of the songs share the same edgy, rebellious impression, which promulgates the idea that his latest album is one meant to disrupt the status quo instead of buying into it. Flume even has an opera-like track, “Is it Cold in the Water?” which only accentuates the eerie mystique of the world this album creates.

“Hi This Is Flume” almost sounds alien, with one of the songs titled completely in abstract symbols and with indistinguishable crooning throughout the track list. It is surprising and exciting to listen to, because it walks a very thin line between absolute genius and madness.

Flume’s latest release certainly marks a new style for the talented artist. He craftily plays with sound to induce madness, wonder or both in his listeners, and creates a completely distinctive musical experience for them.

Is the album one to listen to over and over? Maybe not, but “Hi This Is Flume” should exist, should be experienced and should encourage other artists to swim against the mainstream as Flume successfully has.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*