Flume's "Skin" Album Review: A defining album of 2016 By: 👽 Sean Pryor - 01.11.18
I have been wanting to write this review for awhile now. Flume's Skin was THE highlight of 2016 for me. It was one of those albums that really captures you for awhile. If you havn't had a chance to listen to it, check out the Spotify link at the top of this post. Do yourself a favor and listen to the album in order, in one sitting. Find your favorite spot, smoke your favorite strain, huddle up to some nice speakers, and just let the music take over for a bit. Let yourself get lost. I'll wait.
I do sincerely hope you did the above. And if you did do it, I would next ask you take a second and think about what song was your favorite and why. Mine is "Pika".
His album (Harley Edward Streten, better known by his stage name Flume) was one of the things that inspired this magazine actually. Skin is one of those things that really asks for you to give it your attention. To follow in the journey it lays out. From Helix to Beck. Few albums really capture this magic, few albums really have enough soul poured into them to deserve the time they ask of you. Some are just built up around 1-hit wonders that play ad nauseam in mainstream media. I hope you were able to see how Flume's Skin seperates itself from this.
The first thing that stands out to me in his album (even now), is the amount of creativity and uniqueness of it. I have really grown to especially love his non-vocal work. These are the tracks that really let Flume shine. He has a sort of mastery on display during these tracks, that unfortunately the vocals, IMHO, detract from. That isn't to say they aren't done well, Flume does have an ear for who to collaborate with. He is able to really match his song to some perfect pairings, from the ever changing Kai in "Never Be Like You", a song that combines some extremely spacey ambient sounds with some chilled out trap effects, to the harder hitting Vince Staples in "Smoke & Retribution", a song that edges away from his synth heavy sound.
In many ways these vocal tracks do an amazing job tying the album together. Interconnecting the journey for the listener. But the gems are in those moments of pure Flume. Take "Wall Fuck" for instance. All of a sudden you are presented with this song of almost panic, and in this song I can feel this emotion of frustration and release constantly tackling you. Flume described it as sounding "like the fabric of the universe tearing." And in those moments of capturing raw emotion, Flume really gains new heights. He has an ability to translate these indescribable feelings into sounds we can all share. From the wonder and fear in "When Everything Was New" to the sense of release in "Free" as Flume literally overcomes his own creative block (which he described as being so intense he thought he may never be able to write again) by traveling on a one-way ticket to Tasmania to isolate himself from the world in a log cabin.
I hope you are able to pull as much enjoyment from this album as I did. I personally can not wait for his next work. If you did enjoy the album, be sure to check out the two Skin companion EPs. Particularly his work with lead vocalist of Glass Animals, Dave Bayley, on Fantastic. It's fantastic.