KUMD Album Reviews: Paracosm
Occasionally, an album comes around that gives you the creeping feeling that youíre about to get taken away. Washed Outís Paracosm is exactly that kind of album. And itís composed entirely by one guy, Georgia-based Earnest Greene, not a band. Greeneís style combines dreamy synth-pop with vintage sampling machines to create a cosmic-sounding travel-album that croons over escape in more than a temporal way.
Those familiar will recognize his earlier style from the TV show Portlandia's intro music with his piece, "Feel it All Around", which first introduced us to the world of bedroom-synthpop-slash-chillwave. However, this album contains more than just thematic "escape". Greene is also distancing himself from his former musical methods which became famous with the television show. He still relies heavily on synth-work for his main sound, but in this release his range expands with over 50 other instruments, especially old sampling keyboards. He specifically selects these kinds of sounds because of their "worn, distressed quality", he announces on his Sub Pop release. Because of this, many suggest that his music is other-worldly, containing qualities that allow the listener to easily escape along with him to realms of his own making. His goal in this new release was to create a new, day-time musical setting, which he does successfully. Ambient interludes full of birds chirping, children playing, chimes, and instrumental sampling arranged in the lightest manner divide the album almost into symphonic movements Ė it is as if Greene moves us from the morning to the evening by evolving from light, synth-pop melodies, such as in "It All Feels Alright", to deeper bass-driven grooves, as in "All I Know" and his title track, "Paracosm." The album also includes touches of shoegaze with tracks like "Weightless" and "All Over Now", which rounds up the end of the album. What's unique to Greene's style in this release is that it's almost entirely electronic, but doesn't feel electronic. Because of his use of vintage synthesizers and instrument-based sampling, as well as his use of a live rhythmic section during recording, one can listen to the work all-the-way through before coming to the conclusion that it's mostly keyboard-work. It's a fresh approach to something often done, and even more surprising when you consider that Greene claims hip-hop as a heavy influence. If you listen hard enough, you can still here little bits of Washed Out's Portlandia days. There are still washy synth melodies, and the album occasionally bridges over into almost-surf-rock rhythm, especially apparent in "Falling Back". However, it's a strong second album that is no-doubt beautifully executed. His work is something to look forward to in the future, especially as he is already considered highly influential in the chillwave sphere. But really, don't concern yourself with hard listening. Paracosm effortlessly transports you somewhere else, and transitions throughout in such ways that it lets you relax there all day.
Recommended Tracks: "It All Feels Alright" "Don't Give Up" "All I Know" "Paracosm"
Sounds Like: Passion Pit, Toro y Moi, Neon Indian, Tycho, Beach House