To sum up Atlanta-based producer Ernest Greene’s music into a single word would be remiss, but he doesn’t seem to mind labels. “It’s chillwave,” he said to me in summation as we chatted one warm afternoon at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington, hours after his performance at the Sasquatch! Music Festival. Since releasing his debut EP High Times under the name Washed Out in 2009, Greene’s lovely lo-fi samples have caught the ear of everyone from independent and major blogs to Adult Swim to Sub Pop Records, to whom he was signed in April of this year. You might even recognize him from the opening sequence of the IFC TV series Portlandia.
But while EPs and Internet hype are fine, all is for naught without a solid debut album, and this one certainly does not disappoint. Within and Without is 40 minutes of soft synths that rise and fall over steady hip-hop percussion like waves under a full moon, narrated by Greene’s own plaintive vocals. Deft variations in tempo between each song make this album equally as suitable to a moonlit drive up the coast as it would to a raucous game of beer-pong. And though he falls into the line of lo-fi sample-based artists before him (Boards of Canada, DJ Shadow), Greene’s music distinguishes itself from the others by the way his vocals fit into the structure of Within and Without. In other words, these are songs, as opposed to tracks. I think it’s fair to say that Greene has certainly found a voice for himself with this debut album.