Released in the midst of an ongoing world tour, Flume’s Skin Companion EP II is the second of two accompanying EPs to the Australian producer’s second studio album Skin. The four-track record comes at a pivotal time for the young producer, as he has solidified his place in mainstream music – at least among electronic fanatics – while beginning to explore increasingly experimental themes in composing and sound design.
For those who are unfamiliar, Flume is a unique musician, to put it simply. Even after featuring plenty of notable artists on his second record, he was still the front man, the producer. Flume has expanded upon a growing trend within the world of electronic music production whereby the producers themselves becomes the main act as they navigate through different singers and artists to construct a captivating network of truly talented and artistically untarnished individuals. The trend has produced a type of machine-driven neo-musician, who puts extensive work and time into understanding audio engineering and production software. In the eyes of this humble writer, Flume is paving a new, important path for the future of music.
“Enough” feat. Pusha T: Right of the bat, Flume opens with what may be one of the most aggressive yet powerful tracks of his career. Reminiscent of his single “Smoke & Retribution” featuring Vince Staples and Kučka – which was later released within Skin – Flume’s hard trap beat complements the bars of Pusha T, an east-coast based rapper known originally as a member of the rap duo Clipse and who now presides as president of Kanye West’s GOOD Music. Incorporating traditional trap elements alongside Flume’s signature electronic style, “Enough” is both unforgiving and unrelenting, reinforcing Flume’s embrace of experimentation.
“Weekend” feat. Moses Sumney: In the second track of the EP, the listener is met with exemplary mixing and the flawless sound quality Flume is known for. The white noise layered on top of the lead emulates the warm tones of a record player, the vocal sampling gives a house vibe not unlike Disclosure, and the orchestral samples create a mounting crescendo. Then, as if out of thin air, Moses Sumney’s vocals emerge and weave through the curvature of the instrumentals like threads through tapestry. An up-and-coming artist, Sumney adds an element of soul to the track, reminiscent of Australian indie and soul singer Matt Corby. The track comes to a resolution with a dazzling piano sample that strikes like shattering ice.
“Depth Change”: True to its name, “Depth Change” is an exposé of mixing techniques used to emulate differences in depth and distance of audio in a track. Immediately, you’re hit with a hypnotic hi-hat and reverse cymbal sample that scatter across different audio depths like electricity in a grid. A primarily instrumental piece and the longest in the EP, the track also exhibits Flume’s expertise in sound design and his keen ability to incorporate a wide variety of varying synth elements and styles into a single cohesive track.
“Fantastic” feat. Dave (Glass Animals): The final track of the EP, Flume once again affects a warm tone, opening with an almost flute-like lead that blends with the vocals of Dave Bayley of the English indie band Glass Animals. The incorporation of a staccato lead with rhythmically off-beat percussion elements makes for a sort of neo indie-blues vibe, a unique take for Flume while still retaining his artistic fingerprints. The track itself is slow-going, like a trudge through mud, and it’s an interesting choice for the final piece of his Skin chronicles. However, no hard work goes unrewarded, as “Fantastic,” along with the rest of the EP as a whole, is sure to grow on any listener who does not fall in love with the release right away.