Within And Without is the debut album by 28 year-old Atlanta-based songwriter and producer Ernest Greene, AKAWashed Out. Long adored and critically lauded in the blog world, Greene first came to prominence in the summer of 2009 after unassumingly posting a handful of bedroom-recorded tracks to his Myspace page from his family home in the seclusion of the tiny rural city of Perry, Georgia. “I’d been writing music on my own for three or four years previous to that,” Greene explains, “mostly as a way to experiment with songwriting processes. Those were just the first I ever shared.”
Despite such modest intentions however, those first songs (many of which would appear on the acclaimed Life Of Leisure EP of later that year) were about as complete an opening statement from an artist as imaginable. A heady, psychedelic concoction of what Pitchfork’s Mark Hogan termed “romantic nostalgia and homespun textures,” songs such as “Belong” and “Feel It All Around”—Greene’s biggest hit to date—artfully match the glossy melody of ’80s synth pop, the widescreen scope of early ’90s Balearic dance music and the slowed, heavy bounce of southern Hip Hop production to gorgeously wistful vocals with results as undeniably idiosyncratic and original as they are deeply accessible.
The rest of 2009 and early 2010 saw Greene taking Life of Leisure on tour in North America and Europe; working through various incarnations (initially solo with laptop and then joined by contemporaries Small Black as backing band) with increasing success. Along the way Washed Out inspired a legion of devoted supporters, followers and imitators before seemingly wilfully slipping back into obscurity again-just as the project was beginning to leave the internet ghetto behind in favor of bonafide real world success.
It’s fair to say, then, that Within and Without arrives with a great deal of expectation in tow. Rather than capitalize on the momentum of Life of Leisure immediately by rushing another record out, Greene consciously took a step back from the label scrum surrounding him and considered how best to move the project on. “The sound of those early songs was an aesthetic choice, but also a practical one,” as Greene puts it, “it allowed me to merge and blend a variety of samples and sourced work I was incorporating into my songs at the time. With Within and Without, however, I wanted the songs to develop from a more live, organic place and so some things necessarily changed.”
These changes, however, were not simply the results of a bolstered budget and heaps of studio polish—Greene self-funded the record and actually returned to the perfect isolation of the idyllic lakeside Georgian settings where the Washed Out project began in order to get to work. Instead, he set about adjusting his working methods, “re-learning traditional ways of writing,” as he puts it.
Released on July 11th/12th (through Weird World in the UK/EU and Sub Pop in North America, respectively), Within and Without is a summer record to span the seasons; a collection of songs as comfortable sound-tracking moments of peaceful relaxation as they are lighting up a party, and a strikingly mature next step from a uniquely focused, sincere artist.