Washed Out releases a visceral Paracosm | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Washed Out releases a visceral Paracosm

Ernest Greene's authorial presence is never more than a fleeting silhouette

click to enlarge Washed Out's, Paracosm
Washed Out's Paracosm

A heady take on Paracosm, the second full-length from Ernest Greene, who performs as Washed Out, might take into consideration the titles of the opening and closing tracks: "Entrance" and "All Over Now," respectively. As bookends to the dreamy, meandering album, these titles might speak to the finite nature of experience, to the frailty of the moment, arriving as quickly as it dissipates.

It's difficult and maybe pointless to engage with Paracosm on such a thoughtful level, though. The album speaks from and to a more visceral place. Paracosm is anchored in feeling and to try to frame something so reflexive in intellectual terms is to court cynicism. It speaks volumes that it's so hard to discern Greene's lyrics as anything but breathy half-promises over the swirling synth, upbeat percussion, and even ambient party chatter (as on the uplifting "Don't Give Up") that he places at the forefront of the mix. Really, Greene's authorial presence is never more than a fleeting silhouette.

Paracosm hovers and undulates at the apex of satisfaction and fullness. It does so with precious little buildup to the heights that it reaches and is equally short on anything in the way of descent from those heights. Rather, it brings into sharper focus the elusive moment of ecstasy and transcendence and prolongs it to the length of an album. While this naturalistic method might be short on context, conflict and resolution, it underscores the notion that the world is rife with moments like these — no orchestration required and freely available to anyone who chooses to see them.

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