IT'S BEEN nearly 10 months since Ernest Greene, better known as Washed Out, bequeathed to us his much-anticipated full-length, Within and Without. In terms of music releases—especially with the turn-and-burn mentality of the unsettled internet that first incubated Greene's lo-fi, nostalgic "chillwave"—that's practically an eternity. However, it arguably takes at least that long to fully process an album and its impact. Before aural bliss is fully proclaimed, a record must score many culinary experiments and work commutes. For optimal analysis, one should even be able to pack it up and play it in a U-Haul as one drives to a new state, its veils billowing out the windows and down the highway.
At least, that's been the case for me with Greene's work. In the preliminary listening stages, his songs seemed just another futile strand of laptop hypotheses. Sure, the gauzy, garbled onslaught of samples on 2009's Life of Leisure EP were fun to listen to on a long jog, in a full-on downpour, or when caught in various other consciousness shifts. (For better or worse, that EP's "Feel It All Around" also became intensely familiar as the theme song for Portlandia.) Regardless, nothing immediately tugged at the hardlined conduits that connect my ears to the more emotionally attuned organs.
But Within and Without has attached itself to me like a remora. Its construction is striking. While Washed Out's EPs were compendiums of samples gathered and borrowed from Greene's sprawling LP collection, Within and Without is entirely self-synthesized, which has lent itself graciously to touring; the one-man bedroom project has blossomed into a fully functioning five-piece band. And if you can't hear this immediately on the record—though sultrier stand-out tracks "Far Away" and "You and I" are good examples, the former heavy in plucked bass lines and wistful string arrangements—a recent Daytrotter session highlights the rather lucid beauty of "Amor Fati," rendered only in piano and Greene's voice. It shows just how stunning these songs are on their own, before they undergo a panoply of electronic washes.
As more dinners are cooked and drives are taken in the months ahead, Within and Without should continue to shed its complexities and reveal even more of its true intentions. And perhaps, so will I.