Sydney born beatmaker boy wonder Harley Stretan – aka Flume – was lauded with global praise for his addictive hooks, futuristic beats and punctuated stabs on his self-titled debut album. Since then, everything he touches turns to gold; on the basis of his live show, it’s not hard to see why.
This special set at the Roundhouse was a stark shift from our previous encounters of Flume – usually found in dusty festival tents. This larger venue was reflective of his maturity as an artist, given the slick production values, impeccable lighting, and dazzling screens. It all fuses perfectly with the music to make you realise that Flume is raising the stakes to becoming one of the best live acts in electronic music.
Even before the 24-year old made his entrance the packed-out crowd were putty in his hands, chanting for him like a idolised hero. And then it began – kicking off with his first single Sleepless with its hypnotic and ambient vocals, before seamlessly blending into the bass-thumping R&B inspired On Top.
The man then treats us to a sample of his new material – two jagged, offbeat, and downright filthy tunes, the first with an almost ethereal quality and the second with a hook so catchy that it had everyone instantly chanting along. More tracks from the forthcoming album weaved their way through the set with something almost dystopian about the sound – futuristic, distorted, grimy and totally genre-defying. The exception perhaps being the Disclosure-esque Never Be Like You with its twinkly emotive female vocals, which singer Kai kindly came out to sing live. It is his most commercial track to date, already scoring a number one in the Australian charts.
But this 90-minute set was not without an array of his other hits – including distinctive signature remixes of Disclosure’s You & Me, and Lorde’s Tennis Court. It all came together to demonstrate how Flume has a way of enticing you in. He builds the music until he has you in the palm of your hand, unearthing all of your senses and leaving you on tenterhooks for that beat to drop. Then, from nowhere, even a venue as large as the Roundhouse explodes into full-blown hedonistic rave.
The creative flair of Flume shouldn’t be underestimated. Here is someone who sees music as more than rhythm and melody – he incorporates tones and textures too. His first album may have ripped up the rulebook but we expect Skin to set fire to it, leaving only the ashes of what we know as dance music.