Have you ever listened to a record that struck you with an overwhelming sense of ‘coolness’? A particular brand of music which just washes over you from the very first listen leaving you wanting more? Well allow me to introduce you to Flume and Chet Faker’s collaborative EP “Lockjaw”. As technology moves forward, so do young minds, finding new ways to play music in refreshing ways. These two artists belong to the growing breed of musicians branching out and combining genres to fantastic effect. Bringing in elements of soul, jazz, chillstep and downtempo, the EP marks the union of two artists’ already fantastic sounds.
It seems that after Faker’s vocal contribution to the track Left Alone on producer Flume’s self-titled debut in 2012, the Australian duo felt they had a pretty good thing going. Combining forces for this EP, the pair cultivate three near flawless tracks - bringing together the best of what they both offer. Faker’s singing style has a subtle power to it. At times his vocals have a certain gruffness, a gravelly touch which compliments Flume’s slow, ominous, rhythmic pace. However it is clear that the singer has real harmonic skill as he delivers a wide-ranging set of melodies across the EP. His diverse singing style accents the malleability of Flume’s particular brand of electronica.
The piece opens with what is, for my money, the strongest song on the EP – Drop the Game. Put simply, this track is a playground for both artists: a playground disguised as theatre. Flume’s swinging from the monkey bars throwing out some intoxicating synth over a slow, rhythmic chomp of a beat, while Faker is standing at the top of the slide belting out powerful lyrics. The pair are at the top of their game here – the level of production and vocal dexterity is unquestionable. Despite this exciting exhibition of talent, the lyrics themselves hark to something more mature: “I’ve been feeling old, I’ve been feeling cold. / You’re the heat that I know”. The lyricist calls out to some fading love letting them know “Hush, I said there’s more to life than rush”. This gives the track sincerity, and a sense of meaning. Playground disguised as theatre.
In What About Us Flume takes a synth laced paintbrush, dips it in some jazz, and colours the canvas with a song of two dimensions. One part EDM, as he drives the track with a tasty, patient beat filled with subtle wobbles. The other part jazz, as he flicks in some piano to create harmony throughout the song and then brings in the saxophone at the end to round the piece off in a soothing and classy fashion. Faker’s role in the track is pivotal. Much of the electronic genres are heavily ‘drop’ based, something which can give slower electro a sense of, albeit elegant, bathos. The talented pair have clearly recognised this using Faker’s vocals to add a sense of mystique to the music almost whispering “You can run again when it’s dark” until the tension escalates. The synth rises in the background to a high fizz as Faker chants out “It’s clear to me, you’re not, here alone / So far. Over. You!”. The shift in tone is perfect as we settle back into the beat, comforted by the potent mix of piano and sax.
Wrapping up the EP with the ironically named track This Song Is Not About a Girl. In this track the Aussie’s speed up the tempo a bit. Abstract lyrics about a disgruntled lover chime out beside a steady beat that’s rich with synth and some flavoursome fills. As the song develops, the production becomes a bit more adventurous; layering the vocals, pumping a bit of bass and spicing up the melody. Faker takes it away for the climax of the song crying heart is broken, it’s time to retire! … I don’t want no fire!! in a juicy finishing downbeat.
The production value with these two artists is extraordinary. This three song piece stands testament to this. Putting together some of the best elements from a series of genres, they succeed in bringing live music to an artistic field almost dominated by computers, like a kind of fantastic Electro Soul. Flume stands strong as a musician whose diverse sound is constantly electric and full of character. His music is distinctive, his talent - understated. And Chet Faker, well, he’s a beard that can sing. What more could you want?!