Flume has made huge strides since his eponymous debut in 2012, rocketing to notoriety earlier this year with his single “Never Be Like You”, which had huge success in his home country of Australia and on an international scale, making it onto primetime radio playlists in the weeks following its release. This has certainly led to an increase in interest surrounding the artist’s followup release, Skin.
This new record sees a heavy focus on collaborative production, with more than half of the tracks featuring guest artists such as Little Dragon, AlunaGeorge and Beck. This can lead the musical direction quite firmly in some cases, with “Lose It” being driven by Vic Mensa’s high energy lines, and closing track “Tiny Cities” having a distinct, albeit electrified, Beck flavour.
In contrast, the tracks that remain without a featured artist give listeners something raw, experimental and dark in equal measures. This is particularly true of “Wall Fuck”, which combines industrial vibes, sub-bass, screeching lead synths and vocal samples to produce a sinister, evolving track that stands at the centre of the album. Similar can be said for “Free”, though the dark, sinister atmosphere is replaced here with a fidgeting energy that reminded me of recent Squarepusher and Oneohtrix Point Never releases.
With an hour long play time, Skin should feel like quite an exhaustive release, but often feels as though it’s only dipping its toes in the water before moving on to new territory. In a similar way to James Blake’s latest release, the album has a lot of different sounds to it; lyric led tracks like “Smoke & Retribution”, experimental tracks like “Wall Fuck” and more atmospheric tracks like “Numb & Getting Colder” all demonstrate unique strands of Flume’s distinctive sound. These never stray so far as to lose focus on the album, but it may leave listeners wanting more than this album has to offer, and Flume fans have already been questioning where previously teased tracks have disappeared to.
However, having too much material to fit onto one release is certainly no bad thing, and we’ll no doubt see it all in future releases. For now, Skin is a solid release that I’ve been playing on repeat since it arrived, and there’s no sign of it wearing thin. Flume has a sound that has impressively avoided becoming stale or trite, and based on his recent output that surrounds the making of Skin, he seems to be incredibly invested in the work he creates. Let’s hope we’ll see more from him soon.