Album cover artwork for Flume with rec vinyl record popping outGlobe-trotting electronic wizard Flume (Harley Streten on his passport) has shared that – like many during lockdown – he became a bird fancier.

Fittingly, this album’s titular Damon Albarn-featuring track opens with birdsong field recordings before a warped, plaintive synth melody taps into planet Earth’s ongoing suffering. The imagery was also inspired by our feathered friends and we first spotted the multicoloured, psychedelic, pretty birdy that graces this album cover in Flume’s Jonathan Rwanda-created Palaces visualiser.

After having “ping-pong balled around the world the past ten years almost,” Streten escaped LA just before the world shut down, returned to his native Australia, found digs in a NSW coastal town – where he would often ponder Mother Nature’s perspective – and completed Palaces.

Are Caroline Polacheck’s vocals the sole reason Sirens earned its title? We initially believed so, but rather than the mermaid variant, here siren actually refers to the constant ambulances Polacheck heard racing by while she was living alone in London during the pandemic. “And if I could/ I’d raise my arm/ And wave a wand/ To end all harm…” – lyrics convey a magical sentiment while the beat slowly builds, eventually cranking like a rollercoaster train scaling a super-steep track.

If you’re yet to swoon over Flume’s Coachella performance of Sirens featuring the sublime Caroline Polachek in the flesh – floating around the stage wearing just a few strategically placed skerricks of billowy white material – we recommend you do so sharpish:

Renowned for creating bangers that are somehow simultaneously futuristic and sentimental, Flume enters Aphex Twin-level glitchy sonic terrain on tracks including Get U and the Virgen Maria-featuring Only Fans. Elsewhere, opener Highest Building’s soaring undercurrent makes us feel suspended in space and the stuttering DHLC amplifies into booming bass that threatens to blow speakers. But Flume’s trademark skittish, fractured beats don’t categorise every single song on Palaces, which – in some ways – translates more like a mixtape than his previous Hi I’m Flume mixtape release (2019).

Palaces by Flume is out May 20 on CD, with vinyl (including on JB-exclusive red vinyl, pictured above right) following on June 17, via Future Classic.

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