[9 January 2014]
Reissues of albums that came out two or three decades ago often provide fans a way to appreciate the music in a new way by adding history and context. But what about albums that are just a year old? Can a reissue of something that dropped way back in the heady days of November 2012 be anything other than a sales stunt? In the case of Flume: Deluxe Edition, the answer is yes.
The reissue expands on the well-received eponymous debut album by Flume, a young electronic-music producer from Australia, with a wealth of new material, including remixes, a concert DVD and a “producer disc” that contains software and the stems to three of Flume’s songs. The full physical package is available in the U.S. as an expensive import, but all the music is available in digital form for about $16. That’s a nice deal for people interested in checking out one of the young rising stars in electronic music.
As the possibly too-good-to-be-true story goes, Flume, now in his early 20s, started crafting electronic music after finding a production program inside a box of cereal. Real or not, the story fits, because there’s a youthful (and charming) off-handedness to Flume, the debut full-length that got critics across the globe raving when it came out overseas last fall. (It arrived in the U.S. in February of 2013.) That’s not to say that the album sounds sloppy or unfinished—Flume actually demonstrates considerable skill at building polished, unified tracks out of disparate sonic elements. But there’s a sense of joy in these songs that isn’t always present in electronic music. It’s easy to picture Flume smiling from ear to ear when the “Hip-shakin’ momma I love you” vocal sample lands against the beat just right in the track “Holdin’ On”. Or when the low-key synths that drive the first half of “Insane” explode into hypnotic swirls of sound. Or when Chet Faker delivers his stellar vocal turn on “Left Alone”, which for me is the best song on the album. Flume isn’t a game-changer—the second half sags from repetitive tempos and beats. But it’s a hooky, inviting and accessible piece of work that can be enjoyed by casual fans of electronic music as well as the hardcore devotees.
And now here we have Flume: Deluxe Edition, which adds 18 more tracks to the original album. The new goodies include a rap mixtape, remixes of Flume songs by other producers and Flume’s remixes of other material. Overall, the mixtape additions are quite strong, particularly the reworked “Insane”, which adds a typically blistering rap by Atlanta MC Killer Mike. “Space Cadet”, with rhymes by Ghostface Killah, is another highlight. Flume’s beats and sampling already have a hip-hop sensibility about them, so the mixtape tracks sound like a natural extension of what Flume did on his record.
The Deluxe Edition also includes a number of remixes by some of Flume’s beatmaking peers, including Ta-Ku and Hermitude, to name just two. The former lends his talents to “Left Alone”, adding a booming, club-ready drum sound. The latter adds a propulsive groove and an old-school synth break to “Holdin’ On”. These and the other remixes may not be essential, but they are intriguing, and the flesh out the reissue pretty well. In fact, I’d recommend the Deluxe Edition to any electronic-music fans who are new to Flume. To those who bought his album the first time around, I’d suggest downloading the rap mixtape, at the very least. And finally, to those budding beatmakers out there, I’d say pony up for the whole physical Deluxe Edition shebang. After all, the “producer disc” has to be at least as good as something you can find in a cereal box.