On a snowy Philly weekend, the once and former king of chill-wave, Ernest Greene of Washed Out, is in a nice, warm place.
"Mexico is great," Greene says. "Our set last night was on the beach, right as the sun was setting. Pretty much the best possible scenario for my music." Greene and his ensemble play Electric Factory this weekend.
Washed Out's now-classic 2011 album Within and Without was dozy synth-pop of the most frozen (and sparsely recorded) order.
But Washed Out released a warmer album, Paracosm, this summer, and has been touring ever since. "I think I'm finally experienced enough to do the songs, and thus the shows, right," Greene says.
A paracosm is an imaginary, detailed world - yet most of Greene's lyrics seem rooted in the idea of getting it on in the land of the good groove. So both the cerebral and the carnally inclined will find much in Washed Out to cheer. "Making music for me has always been an escape, no matter what," Greene says. "It's both a safe place to retreat to as well as a wide-open universe to explore. For me, Paracosm explores those two extremes."
The drums on Paracosm have a live vibe, the guitars a crunch, and Greene's vocals a newfound clarity - all of which is very different from Within and Without's spacy sparseness and effects-heavy vocals. Greene credits a new personal vision, leading him away from chill-wave and toward a live, hot feel.
"Yes, working with a rock-band setup was a big influence on the album," Greene says. "I knew that we'd be playing the songs live for the next couple of years, so I wanted to make sure everything could easily fall into place with the performances, which is a lot different than my older records and the solitary chill-wave thing."
So Paracosm features a new sonic palette, with expanded instrumentation, including vintage synthesizers. "The goal," Greene says, "was to squeeze as many different obscure sounds into the mix as possible."
It's not synthesizers alone; arrangements, too, are new and experimental. "My previous records were made with synthesizers as the main focus, and I wanted to try doing a Washed Out song with a different approach," Greene says. "It All Feels Right," for example, starts with acoustic guitar and layers acoustic instruments such as strings and sitar into the mix.
"I think it still sounds like Washed Out," Green says, "but a slightly skewed take on it."