Flume has honed its own brand of wonky electronic music. Over the past decade, the artist – real name Harley Streten – has been creating Grammy-winning fluorescent tracks (second album ‘Skin’ won Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2017 ceremony) and helped it sell out venues across the globe. He is known for left-field sounds that resonate with electricity; tracks that are meant to be heard on big festival PA systems in the early hours of the morning.
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The third album ‘Palaces’ however sees this sound infused with something more. Inspired by the natural world, the project first started in Los Angeles but ended in his native Australia, where he decamped at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I just need space and peace and quiet,” he said NME of the move in a recent interview for our In Conversation video series, explaining that the laid-back lifestyle, where he could live among local wildlife, ended up being extremely conducive to his process. This decision got him out of a creative rut: “Coming here and screwing it up unlocked everything that was going on.”
The results of this change see Streten’s distinctive sounds infused with an ethereal touch. On the ‘Jasper’s Song’ cutscene, trilling piano arpeggios are pulled and pushed through woozy processors – it’s the equivalent of a stoned geezer sweeping through a Ludovico Einaudi piece on a shorted keyboard. Elsewhere, the euphoric “Go” begins with ASMR-appropriate running water sounds, with bouncy hooks and lush production that later erupts into jubilant ground-filling. The title track, meanwhile, sounds like the sun rising after a wild night, with birdsong (and the distinctive voice of his friend Damon Albarn) guiding you home as the darkness recedes.
That’s not to say that Streten is giving up on firecrackers completely. “Only Fans,” a collaboration with Spanish artist Virgen María, merges carnal vocals with industrial beats, and there are moments of dirty, bass-heavy electronica (“Get U”) and hyper-pop. chaotic (“Highest Building”, “Escape”) elsewhere. Fans of ‘Skin’ dance-pop hits will also be sated with lead single ‘Say Nothing’ featuring Australian artist May-A, the closest rival to that album’s star Tove Lo, with the single “Say It”.
This change of rhythm brings a welcome modification to the Flume sound, which is enhanced by its rich and new sound. Yes, Streten can still soundtrack your evening, but on “Palaces” he will just as gently bring you back to Earth in the morning.
Release date: May 20
Record company:Transgressive records