4.1.19 flume

Stars: 5/5

One of the most ambitious and genre-defying EDM artists of the decade has returned with a vengeance.

With his new mixtape “Hi This Is Flume,” the titular artist gives all of his rabid fans what they have clamored for for a long time and continues to test the boundaries of how deviant electronic music can be while still pandering to the large demographic it entails.

And with the mixtape coming as a complete surprise release, there’s no better way to stoke the excitement of both Flume diehards and those unfamiliar with the artist – who has taken an extended break from releases since a pair of EPs released in 2017.  From the sound of it, Flume has returned in a violent current of his signature snares and incredibly off-kilter production.  He plans to stay for a long time.

The hilarious opening title track makes a mimicry of ads all across radio and streaming services that feature popular artists endorsing their albums and new releases in similarly half-baked manners.  The distorted cacophony of seemingly thousands of different Flumes saying “hi, this is Flume” increases in frequency until it reaches its breaking point and launches the listener into his twisted soundscape.

The next song is “Ecdysis,” an insane breakdown that makes us remember why we missed the EDM kingpin in the first place. Sprightly and trippy throughout, it retains that feeling of levitation to the listener that is so vital to the systematic creation of Flume’s music and that was essential to his 2012 debut and his 2016 smash hit “Skin.”

Another solo highlight comes in “Jewel,” which sees Flume go back to his roots and launch an all-out assault on the ears of all that come within listening range.  He becomes the mad scientist of his own creation that seems to become alive on its own merits, twisting and turning through the duration of the track as if it was its own natural, organic being.

Flume also draws from an extensive list of collaborators to breathe new life into his songs.  On “High Beams,” the producer brings aboard another electronic artist in HWLS and English rapper slowthai to create one of the hardest-hitting excursions on the mixtape, with a relentless flow and lower end attack to boot.

Speaking of hard-hitting, look no further than “How To Build A Relationship,” the most potent song of the year thus far.  Paired with an up-and-coming firebreather in JPEGMAFIA, Flume creates the closest thing he can to a traditional trap beat while Peggy spits nothing but venom for 3 minutes straight. It’s the sound of dynamite doused in gasoline getting blown up in a black hole, in literary terms.

The rest of the mixtape’s runtime also features some soulful offerings from fellow producer SOPHIE – of which Flume remixes one of her tracks from last year’s “OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES” – and constant collaborator KUČKA.

That’s not even the tip of the iceberg.  I can’t fit nearly as much as the mixtape offers in this review.  It’s too big, it’s too bold and it’s too brash to be able to unpack it all in one sitting.  Are you even going to call this thing a mixtape?

By far his best work, Flume comes out of hiding to create a fantastic assortment of music that transcends words.  Put headphones on and take it all in.  It’s the sound of the future clashing with the present, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better electronic album this year.

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