Review Summary: A soothing mesh of dream and synthpop, consisting of a singer, his computer and a deeply instilled 80's pop inspiration.
Call it a musical fashion or another progeny of the synthesizer, Chillwave (also known as “Glo-Fi”) is a controversial genre creeping in-between and around the pop, indie and electronic scenes with increased Internet hype. Described as “electro-pop from the 1980s…recession-era music [that’s] low-budget and danceable" by New York Times' Jon Pareles, its controversy stems to the fact that it didn't exist, yet. Ernest Greene is more or less one of the first to take the soothing atmospheres similar to dream pop contemporaries Beach House and Toro y Moi, and taking them even further into the dream-like EP Life of Leisure, and now the bedroom intimacy of his LP release, Within and Without.
On the surface it's a modern mesh of synth-pop consisting of a singer and his trusty computer, filled with ambiance and experimental trance-like beats inspired by various aspects of eighties music. Altogether it sounds a lot like music that is perfect to enjoy while awake or dozing off. The first two tracks “Eyes Be Closed" and “Echoes" are slightly darker pieces of slow rave beats, and the moody ear-candy to "Far Away" that has Greene's decorous vocals. The important is the improvement in production in comparison to the cassette-sound of his EP's High Times and Life of Leisure. Nothing here is difficult to grasp, every track is simple and laid out for any listener within the first 30 seconds, and it has little in common with the party-esque groove on his EP's. “You and I” and “A Dedication" are two of the stronger tracks of his early career, with the formers vocals from guest singer Caroline Polachek.
Greene's voice doesn't carry his music like it did before, and tend to rely on the underlying melodies to keep things to a minimum. Things here fit the sincere chord of the earlier "New Theory," but sometimes it's easy to forget there are any vocals at all here. Most songs here structured around a piano theme or a synthesized vibe in the first 30 seconds, each track closing in at nearly 5 minutes leaves a lot of repetition, which is great for anyone looking to actually fall asleep. It definately works for listeners on different levels, because this is a unique new change for Washed Out, but Greene's voice doesn't stand out like before. Having the same short melody repeated an extra minute and a half on each song isn't inspirational, it just makes things drag on. It's easy to tell it wasn't an aimed album in the first place, but thankfully it is inspirational enough to continue from while the genre is still in its blossoming stages. Regardless, Within and Without could, and likely *will* become one of the more memorable releases from the genre.