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WPGM Recommends: Flume – Skin (Album Review)

Flume has become one of the most talked about DJs in electronic music, since his critically acclaimed self-titled debut album was released in 2012. The Australian born producer recently released his sophomore follow up Skin, which has also been praised by critics and fans alike.

Flume has spent almost the last 3 years on constant tour which took its toll on the producer. He eventually got tired of playing the same songs, and started the process of creating new material but feared that releasing another album meant more continuous global touring, and the pressure of matching the same success as his debut. He took some time off after his tour to live a normal life to reduce the stress of his success and recuperate before the start of his sophomore album.

“I had to put a certain amount of pressure on myself to create music of a certain level and a certain standard. Since the first record came out, there’s now a benchmark for me to hit and to beat. I was writing whatever I wanted with little consideration, I just went with whatever came out, and it wasn’t very thought out”, he explains during the initial start to Skin.

During his time on tour, he released remixes, an EP and recorded new material in-between, to keep his creativity flowing as he got tired of playing the same material over and over again at his shows. “I had a bunch of new songs, but I couldn’t play them because I was saving it for the record, and it was quite frustrating giving people the same show every night, when I had so much new stuff I was sat on”.

With his frustration he started to re-evaluate the future of how he would release his new music. “From now on, I’ve decided, I’m not going to do an album, wait a few years and tour, then do another album, then repeat. I’m going to do an album like this one, and then just keep putting stuff out there, without the traditional breaks”.

He produced enough new songs to stretch over two albums and found it difficult to select which ones would feature on Skin. He even says that he finds some of his unreleased materials better, but do not fit the overall flow the selected songs for Skin have.

But that is not going to stop Flume from potentiality releasing the left over songs as singles even though they do not feature on the album. “Those other songs are still going to come out, for sure, but as a body of work it didn’t quite make sense to give them a home on the album. That’s exciting for me, because there’s so many songs to play with on different future releases”.

The album features several artists including, Beck, Little Dragon, Kai, Tove Lo and AlunaGeorge, with 10 of the 16 tracks having a vocalist. Flume claims this album is a lot more calculated and thorough with who he wanted to work with and how and where he wanted to take the sound, and differ from the debut.

The first singles from the album, “Never Be Like You” and “Say It” are arguably the album’s more pop sounding tracks which is probably why his record label opted to release them first as they are the most mainstream and radio friendly songs. But Skin offers a spectrum of paces and styles through out with a blend of fast paced tracks with layers of more ambient electronic songs.

The album kicks off with “Helix” with gentle flutes enticing us in before dropping us into a powerful melody of synth. It is one of six songs that is pure Flume and requires no vocalist, and a reminder of the talent the multi-instrumentalist has, and what was so special about his debut. The six songs show that it is not necessary for him to have a feature to carry the album, but that he has them for the purpose of his project; to experiment more with working with different artists and sounds.

Many Hip-Hop artists feature on the album with tracks such as “Lose It” with Vic Mensa, “Smoke & Retribution” with Vince Staples and KUCKA, and “You Know” with Raekwon and Allan Kingdom, from Kanye West’s “All Day” fame, which create a new style of Hip-Hop blend, and are the up-beat tracks that make you want to dance.

Whereas songs like “Take A Chance” with Little Dragon, “Innocence” with AlunaGeorge, and “3” provide gentle vocals which Flume uses to layer and break-up to create depth and ambience, are the tracks you want to sway and end your night or wind down to.

Flume has so much substance in his music that it is hard to imagine him crossing the line from a grounded DJ that could reach legendary status like some of his respected peers in his field, to an over commercial act such as Calvin Harris and Avicii who have lost their edge when producing music with meaning.

The album is truly a great balance of vocal melodies with experimental electronic synths that creates a new take on dance music. It showcases the creativity of the producer and shows us the reason he is so renowned since his debut. Flume’s Skin is out now via Future Classic/Transgressive Records, purchase it on iTunes here, Flume will also be touring Europe, America and Canada this summer, for tickets and more information, click here.

Words by Wai-Kin Cheng

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