A flute rises like dawn. The slow stirring of life, an emotional inception. A break, a beat, a pulse, before beats cascade up and down as if forming ladders of DNA. Unsurprising for a song called Helix, of course, but in this short space and without a single word uttered, Flume bares his Skin by telling an entire story.
There aren’t many producers who can manage such a connect, but Australia’s Harley Streten ain’t no ordinary. Under his stage name he weaves electronic tapestries in a way that few of his peers can, and it’s the sort that has attracted collaborators as varied as Tove Lo, Vic Mensa and Beck. Not a bad cast for such a young career.
Admittedly some connections work better than others. Never Be Like You takes Kai‘s vocals for a rather stunning beat-hop confessional, but Lose It with Mensa doesn’t 100% fit. Say It makes a virtue of Tove Lo in a new milieu, but Raekwon seems to get swallowed in the synth waves of You Know Allan. It seems that female voices seem to gel best with Streten’s approach, the lighter tones of Little Dragon and AlunaGeorge drawing light against the shade of the rich and viscous beats.
Skin is a hell of a trip though, forever engaging if never quite as emotional as that opening. There are few producer who nail it the way Streten does, burrowing deep into the layers of conventional dance-pop and pulling something fresh out every time. His own act is tough to follow, but even by his standards this Skin – in the best way – will be pretty tough to shed.