Written By: Kirk Kitson
Hi This Is Flume is the soundtrack to your wildest parties and your worst nightmares. It’s raw distillation of color in auditory form; the personification of a hot desert summer while simultaneously harboring the iciness of a brisk winter. It’s symbolic of our growing culture of ironic detachment due to our newfound need for constant entertainment and distraction, which will only grow (get worse) as technology and capitalism both continue their constant, trudging march; a fantastic argument for the importance of poptimism while also appearing to be an outright rejection of it.
Avant garde and unknown yet conventional and familiar, Hi This Is Flume has managed to create the rawest version of Flume’s signature sound, having more in common with Amnesia Scanner, Arca, and Oneohtrix Point Never than his usual forte of mainstream dance music, a space he had previously found massive success in with 2016’s Skin.
However, it’s still unmistakably Flume – every song here still carries his stadium-filling pop aesthetic, only twisted into grotesque, primal behemoths. While it could still sound at times as if it could fit in a phone commercial or at Rolling Loud, it demonstrates more of an interest towards experimentation. Moreso, along with other works such as Charli XCX’s Pop 2 and Sophie’s Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides, Hi This Is Flume is indicative of pop music’s clear desire to innovate and evolve beyond its expected norms while also serving as a deconstruction of itself.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of Hi This Is Flume is how it constantly has one foot planted firmly in the history of electronic music. Every song here is a mosaic of electronic music’s past, present, and future; an exciting tapestry of footwork, dubstep, ambient, drum and bass, grime, trap, future bass, IDM, witch house, the list goes on. Above all that, Hi This Is Flume is maddening, unadulterated fun. Every song here is a madhouse of ideas that flow so perfectly into each other, heeding itself to repeated listens not only because it’s incredibly dense but also satisfying.
In this regard, a fair comparison would be to Playboi Carti’s Die Lit in how they both bounce around between different forms and open themselves up to unconventionality yet can still keep the listener’s attention otherwise through pure dopamine rushes. This is what Hi This Is Flume delivers in spades – from the constant trading of sleek keys and harsh horns on Ecdysis to the maddening drop on the Is It Cold In The Water remix that carries a brutal, teeth-grinding level of distortion, to Upgrade which starts with distorted 8-bit keys yet evolves into a straight up footwork track (and a damn good one at that), Hi This Is Flume proves itself to be diverse and engaging, even when not everything works.
One of the most important things to note about Hi This Is Flume is while it does nod to a history of both conventional and experimental forms of dance music, it is also very of the moment. It becomes apparent that Hi This Is Flume is intrinsically tied to our modern psyche, a project not only made in but made for 2019. From the first track being a commentary on the artistic process and the vapid nature of dumbing that down for a mainstream audience who ignore entire aesthetics of albums for instant gratification Spotify “This is” playlists to the more obvious references of various pop culture bastions like vlogging and Game of Thrones from rapper JPEGMAFIA, Hi This Is Flume is surprisingly reflective of the various changes of this last decade, however loud or subtle. It speaks to our dysfunctional relationship with technology and consumption, serving as a raucous celebration of fleeting youth and chaos. And through this, Flume has managed to create something beautiful yet freaky and avant garde, something harsh and raw yet endlessly listenable.