Down the Rabbit Hole
- 12 Mar 2017 at 04:00
- WRITER: CHANUN POOMSAWAI
The Sydney producer gets weird and wonderful on his most playful EP yet.
Flume/ Skin Companion EP 2
Australian electronic producer, musician and DJ Harley Edward Streten, better known as Flume, is perhaps the fastest rising artist to have come out of the land down under. His 2012 self-titled debut studio album, released when he was just 21 years old, offered up a refreshing take on electronic dance music, brilliantly blending the sonic influences of hip-hop icon J Dilla and electronica act SBTRKT. The record was a breakthrough success and earned him a double-platinum certification in his home country as well as gold in New Zealand. Apart from being a solo artist in his own right, he also became a highly sought-after remixer and would go on to work with Lorde, Disclosure and Sam Smith.
Fast forward to 2017 -- not only did Flume's second full-length, star-studded release, Skin, snatch the title of Album of the Year at the ARIA Music Awards, but it took home the Best Dance/Electronic Album at 59th Annual Grammy Awards. With this latter win, the Sydney-based beatmaker has well and truly arrived on the international music scene. In its wake, we're treated to Skin Companion EP 2, a follow-up to last year's EP 1. According to Flume, both EPs contain tracks that he's "been wanting to get off [his] chest" and are meant to act as an epilogue of sorts to Skin.
The four-track EP opens with Enough, a cut featuring Pusha T that highlights Flume's passion for hard-hitting hip-hop. It's abrasive and grimy in equal measures -- far removed from the EDM-leaning accessibility of his sophomore LP. Glitchy, R&B-tinged Weekend finds him teaming up with lesser known LA singer-songwriter Moses Sumney. "Our love was a weekend on the water/Silly me for thinking you would want me longer," Sumney croons over off-kilter synths. "My love found a home under the water/Glory be, 'tis the season for a slaughter."
The EP's only instrumental piece, Depth Change, is slightly less memorable with production that inches too closely to his other verse-less offerings like Sintra, Helix and 3. Fantastic, on the other hand, is immense in its experimentalism. Props to Flume for handpicking Glass Animals' Dave Bayley to lay down his quirky vocals over wonky beats. "Bad milk got my raisin bran tasting bad/Getting fiber-tastic/Say you'll go, say you're someone imagined/Life's looking tragic," Bayley intones, his zonked-out vocals suitably matched by wonky beats.
At its core, Skin Companion EP 2 showcases Flume at his most playful and experimental. Musically, it's more in line with its predecessor, EP 1, than his debut outing. And while Skin felt, for the most part, like it was crafted with the sole intention of pleasing the general public, this EP couldn't be more opposite. Free from the pressure of trying to avoid the so-called sophomore slump, he has created a mini-collection of songs that doesn't just eschew the EDM sensibilities, but boldly embraces the spirit of glitch-hop, the sound that fits right in his wheelhouse.
Inspired by witch house, rising Bangkok-based duo X0809 make melodic synth-pop that's both captivating and endearing. After releasing their debut single, -30, last year, the pairing of Anya and Notep is back with a new cut, Ho. The song features wonky synths and warped vocals, all riding on propulsive club beats. If you dig the sonic aesthetics of artists like Grimes and Purity Ring, this stuff might just be right up your alley.
Lana Del Rey/ Love
"Look at you kids with your vintage music/Comin' through satellites while cruisin'/You're part of the past, but now you're the future," so begins Lana Del Rey's new single, simply titled Love. Built on the strings-laden instrumentation reminiscent of her previous work, the track finds the songstress celebrating those loved-up feelings and how splendid they are. especially when you're young ("Doesn't matter cause it's enough/To be young and in love"). Refreshingly devoid of high drama, this is the antithesis of Young and Beautiful, her contribution to Hollywood blockbuster, The Great Gatsby.
Spoon/ Can I Sit Next To You
Can I Sit Next To You is the second offering taken from Spoon's forthcoming ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts. Featuring jaunty hand claps and bouncy bass lines, the funk-leaning single continues on a disco-oriented, dancefloor-friendly trajectory of its predecessor. "Can I sit next to you?/Can you sit next to me?" frontman Britt Daniel cheekily implores. "Get the stars out your eyes/Come and bring them to me." From what we've heard thus far, it seems like the new LP from these guys will be one helluva sexy affair.
Dolly Parton/ The Story
Iconic country songstress Dolly Parton puts her signature spin on Brandi Carlile's breakthrough single, The Story, as part of a tribute album that celebrates ten years of Carlile's beloved 2007 record of the same name. Joining a stellar line-up including Pearl Jam, Adele, The Avett Brothers and My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Parton is on her usual top form, singing about unconditional love ("I climbed across the mountaintops/Swam all across the ocean blue/I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules/But baby I broke them all for you"). Titled Cover Stories, the record is due out later in May and all proceeds will go toward the War Child UK charity.
Venezuelan-born producer Arca (real name Alejandro Ghersi) may be better known for his collaborations with boundary-pushing artists like Björk and FKA twigs. But as a solo artist, he's an underrated originator of the outlandish side of electronic music -- the sound that provided the backbone for his debut LP Xen and its follow-up, Entrañas. On his latest cut Piel, we hear him sing for the first time ("Here's my voice and all my guts: feel free to judge it", he speaks of the song) over guitar reverb and sonorous synths. Haunting and sombre, the song is like an otherworldly incantation.
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