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 summer hit or a unique musical fashion, or even another progeny of the synthesizer: Chillwave (also known as the “Glo-Fi” genre) is a controversial type of music creeping in-between 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 doesn't actually exist yet. Ernest Greene is technically the first to attempt this sound, and the age old notion of “it takes two” hinders the possibility of it being a true genre.
What we have here is Greene’s new LP, entitled “Within and Without”, a modern mesh of synth-pop consisting of a singer and his computer, filled with ambiance and experimental trance-like beats and inspired by aspects of eighties music. The ‘chill’ in "Chillwave" doesn’t seem to strike much with the first two songs, except for the relaxing feel of “Eyes Be Closed” and a darker dance-inspired approach to “Echoes”. The vocals are decorous, allowing the music to flourish across the landscapes that are created, carefully crafted to polish any blemish with a calm and collected intimacy. Other areas are hard to grasp, like the contemporary psychedelic approach of “Amor Fati” or the appealing bells that move the impressive “Far Away”. “Before” is the only weak track here, with its stagnant blandness it merely sits on the album like a bored child. With “You and I” it picks up a little; there are some great ideas at work including a female spoken verse, but the album takes up full gear with the title track and the closing finale “A Dedication”, surely reminiscent of Greene’s “good ol’ days” which gives a solid impression of heartbreak.
The thing to remember is that Mr. Greene does a good job at keeping the listener tuned in with the music. Nearly every moment is as good as its last, and his melodies are captivating. It’s sincere, potent, transcending and it thankfully lacks the same cliché hooks of a standard pop album, with most songs here structured around a piano theme or a synthesized vibe. His voice is compelling, it isn’t wiry or overpowering, and he has a soft and assuring tone. It’s not a radically aimed album, but it creates a perfect foundation for other artists to build on, and while the genre is still in its soft, harmless infant stage, it could –in the near future- become the new conventional pop trend.