washed-out-paracosm

The frail attempt by the music press to shape the loose chillwave umbrella into a movement was, we can now confidently declare, an unsuccessful one. For a start, it only ever really encompassed two artists, Toro y Moi and Washed Out, aka 30 year-old Georgia native Ernest Greene. In truth, while the pair were writing out of a similar sonic space after meeting at the University of South Carolina, Chazwick Bundick had gotten anything resembling chillwave out of his system well before Greene managed to release his debut LP, 2011’s dream pop gem ‘Within And Without’. Far from groping at the hem of his fellow alumnus, Greene has hammered out a distinctive sound by blending shoegaze, ambient and synthpop into an elegantly intoxicating concoction that places memory and melancholy at its core; always seeming to exist at that ephemeral moment just before fading away.

This time around, the production retains its sumptuous, ambient warmth but ‘Paracosm’ is lightyears ahead in the intricacy of its textures and rhythmic layers. The rough edges of ‘Within And Without’ have been rounded and smoothed and yet it feels like it has more brawn. ‘Don’t Give Up’, for example, takes disco, turns the RPM down a notch, and manages to retain its muscle, while ‘All I Know’ is a dazzling synth anthem that’s just waiting to blow up. Everything feels deliberate and, even at 6.33, the title track doesn’t feel overwrought. Indeed, it takes skill to stay within the boundaries of taste when you’re playing with swirling harps but Greene manages to pull it off.

While the overall sound hasn’t changed dramatically, this is a more than worthy follow-up to an excellent debut. As the Cocteau Twins jangle of ‘All Over Now’ fades out, you feel that ‘Paracosm’ will be the leftfield soundtrack of the summer.

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