Washed Out - Paracosm
A triumphant album maintaining an accessible pop veneer while staying true to Greene's musical vision
The title of this album, a term meaning a detailed imaginary world, perfectly encapsulates what Ernest Greene, as one of the vanguard figures of a new wave of electronic artists creating expansive and immersive solo symphonies, is all about.
Greene is apparently creating his paracosm with writers like Tolkien, CS Lewis and outsider artist Henry Darger in mind, rendering thye record an adventure; a journey into evocative aural signatures which were largely composed by Greene alone (engineer Ben H Allen helped in part) in his home state of Georgia.
The title track is a prime example of the loveliness at hand here, a soft, shoegazing lullaby founded on the sound of a harp, a slide guitar and Greene’s cooing, spectral voice buried within the mix. It comes late into the album, though, and prior to that we’ve been built up by the delicate, Broadway-musical flutter of strings and birdsong on ‘Entrance’ and the cheerfully relaxed croon of ‘It All Feels Right' – like a mid-period Beatles track flung into the future or a less whacked-out Flaming Lips. These early songs form a suite, with the similarly jolly ‘Don’t Give Up' bouncing in on a more typically contemporary tide of synths, while the hymnal synthesised sound of ‘Weightless,' the sonorous dream-pop of ‘Great Escape’ and the whooshing shoegaze rush of 'Falling Back' all play poignantly with the listener’s own imagination. As a follow-up to his successful and much-beloved in hipster circles 2011 debut Within and Without, Paracosm is surely a triumph; a record which maintains a light and accessible pop veneer while staying firmly true to Greene’s own vision – an album that doesn’t pin itself down and exists as whatever you want it to be, which is surely the whole point.