Flume released his second extended play to his critically acclaimed project Skin, titled Skin Companion EP II, last Friday.
Like its predecessor Skin Companion EP I, EP II is only four tracks long, but boasts the same smooth, synth-heavy “future beats” sound that launched Flume into prominence in the electronic music community. Unlike EP I, however, EP II is a clean-cut instrumental heavyweight, diverging away from the rinse-and-repeat formatting that some criticized him for last fall.
The project begins with “Enough,” a bass-banging trap track featuring vocals from Good Music’s Pusha T. The Bronx rapper lays down braggadocious lyrics about the results of his wealth — including one trademarked reference to his cocaine-slinging days. Pusha T.’s grueling, grimy voice almost clashes with deep, heavy 808s as tension builds in the track, all leading to a booming bass drop as Pusha T. utters the apogee lyric, “but it ain’t enough,” revealing his hunger for even more.
Flume flaunts his ability to construct an emotional response, something he has perfected over the years. Likewise, he builds the mood beautifully in his following piece titled “Weekend,” which features a calming, soulful Moses Sumney singing against an airy, aetherial instrumental.
While the track begins with the same low-pitched aggression as “Enough,” it steadily climbs as Flume introduces higher and higher layers of rhythmic motion throughout. The highlight of the track occurs near the end, as Sumney’s voice leads into a piano repetition of the melody he sings, all while Flume sprinkles gentle diminished arpeggios and volume changes onto the back track.
The latter of half of EP II resembles more traditional Flume sound. The third track, “Depth Charge,” features the familiar wobbly synthesizers and marching percussion that have become Flume’s bread-and-butter since his breakout self-titled project from 2012.
While it is less explorative and spectacular than the first two tracks, “Depth Charge” is five minutes of solid music to chill to. By the same token, the track “Fantastic” is somewhere between relaxed and psychedelic, as layered vocals from Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley (styled as “Dave Glass Animals”) weave through slow, glitchy instrumental hooks.
No matter your opinion on Flume, there’s no doubting his consistency despite mainstream success last year. In electronic music, fans much too often witness their favorite artists blow up, only to accompany their success with a rapid dip in content quality as they attempt to change their sound to fit into popular radio stations and attract mainstream audiences.
Popular artists like the Baauer and the Chainsmokers have long become disassociated from true electronic flavor as they embrace their newfound pop success. Flume, however, has moreso remained true to his roots, further pushing the boundaries of trap and future-sound in EP II. It seems, after almost a year, fans have finally received a worthy continuation of Skin.
To be sure, Skin Companion EP I was technically sound: Flume delivered clean production on four full-length instrumentals. The reason it fell short on some ears was because of its lack of innovation — it sounded like a compilation of Skin throwaways rather than a project. EP II, thus, is as refreshing as it is refined. With heavy instrumental focus and a familiar-yet-novel sound, Flume demonstrates both his range and production skill as a one of electronic music’s heavyweights.