Ernest Greene hasn’t altogether abandoned his sample-centric credo, but his sophomore record as Washed Out is no longer fit to be dubbed a project. There are far too many electronic connotations attached to that term. For the first time in the Perry, Ga., native Greene’s four-year run, he’s shaped his airy, wistful pop with actual instruments.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of those live elements come in the form of vintage keyboards. Acoustic guitar sporadically pops up on Paracosm, but it’s nearly obsolete contraptions like the Mellotron, Novatron, Chamberlin and Optigan that truly pique Greene’s interest. While it’s endlessly interesting to pick apart the production, that exercise is precisely the opposite of what Washed Out is for—this LP especially.
Like its title suggests, Paracosm is meant to be a sonic jaunt into Greene’s fantasy realm. It’s not unlike Within and Without and Washed Out’s earlier EPs in its undulating rhythms and sluggishly danceable beats. Skewed whimsy and rosy reminisce are permanently embedded in Greene’s music-making. But his attention to smooth, almost unnoticeable track segues makes this effort his most listenable yet—and a more viable means of escape.
Paracosm is fluid, forever in motion. It shimmers perpetually. Rather than singular entities, each song is a flicker of intensity as it crescendos into full swing. As the strums of “It Feels All Right” begin to fade out, swirling synth and lively chatter shift the ears seamlessly into “Don’t Give Up,” a daytime bonfire of a tune rife with a jittery shaker and tempered by Greene’s rich, ethereal croon. Celestial chimes at the start of several tracks—in particular “All I Know” and “Falling Back”—perpetuate the otherworldly notion. How Greene’s Paracosm appears to any one listener is entirely subjective, but the urge to set up residency in that realm is very much universal.
Photo by Shae Detar