“Within And Without” – ‘Washed Out’
Washed Out is Ernest Greene, bedroom synth-pop soloist hailing from Georgia, USA, recreating whatever disco left behind into the consistency of a stretched-out piece of chewing gum. Pace is utterly devoid across its nine tracks. It is hard to believe – let alone conceive – an individual as sophisticated as his music, was capable of such an exclusive endeavour. Released – I believe – sometime last month Within And Without is Greene’s debut, and what a blast it is:
Within And Without is heavy on the reverb. Dreamy, ‘gazey atmospheres projected from some faraway obscurity. Melancholic downtempos sweep up lyrics in a bleak, slow-mo whirlwind, while any percussive emphasis seems dulled in a thick, impenetrable treble overcoat. This gives the feel of an overall monotone haze. Predominantly synth, Within And Without is as its name implies: very Washed Out. The album feels hung-over. Or, as one might traverse a dream: not-all-there. It is not unenjoyable; contraire. It is quite. It is relaxing, to the degree of chillwave – so, think The Phenomenal Handclap Band minus its psychedelica, or even Chicane. If you’ve never heard of either of them, or disliked them altogether, Within And Without probably isn’t for you. Despite its chillwave vibes, elements of dance – the synth-beats, the glassy ambience – are an ever-present characteristic, though not so much as to a boppy consistency as to a trudge or gentle sway.
At just over forty-minutes, Within And Without is the toddler that drags their feet across the ground making an otherwise straightforward journey, mind-numbingly tedious, to great effect. Its deception lengthens it to the feeling of an hour, while its tracks are doubled from the averaged four-minutes to eight. Time slips away, then, while Within And Without swallows you into its world of semi-transparency and fatigue. One gravitates to it as one gravitates to sleep, or chocolate, or sunlight. Too much of a good thing, and you start to feel sluggish, sick almost. If only for this bittersweet phenomena, check it out.
Such as it is, chillwave has a tendency to bleed from one track to the next, often seamlessly without one noticing. It is largely responsible for undefinable disinterest – that is – why am I not liking this? Within And Without barely establishes a crescendo at all, but it’s careless to simply lump it into the aforementioned. Rather, Greene has carefully constructed miniature breaths between each track, fade-outs and ins that qualify movement, change. This gives the listener a brief moment to compose themselves with anticipation. What may be bogging you down instead is characteristically beat-oriented style. They drive each and every track; yes, there is some danger to be found here – repetition. But it’s not enough to impact Within And Without’s individuality. What I remember most about it is its opening, “Eyes Be Closed”: its frizzled synth contained in an hourglass of phantasmal reverb. “Soft” and its spot-on conveyance of physical sensation through aural stimulation. But perhaps the most effective track – and my personal favourite – is “You and I”: pace set at a trudge, laboured beats and long-winded articulations somehow cowering behind distortion. Trimmed in the softest velvet.
Reviewer’s Pick: “You And I”
Stand-out Tracks: “Eyes Be Closed”, “Soft”, “You And I”, “Within And Without”, “A Dedication”
The Enantiomorphic God