chillwave is like the betamax of indie genres: it was cool for a couple of years, and my uncle sometimes jokes that he wishes it was still around. just three summers after its apex, chillwave’s largest proponents have started to distance themselves from that identity. toro y moi underscored with this year’s anything in return that he no longer would stand to be pigeonholed, so it makes sense that his south carolina counterpart would follow suit.
it should be noted that, for all the transparency chillwave is/was purported to have, its two godfathers each retained their own individual tendencies, which have now been pushed to the extreme. chaz bundick steered toro y moi slowly towards the r&b side of chillwave, crossing over elements of pop and working on collaborations with tyler, the creator in the process. ernest greene’s trajectory was a bit different and initially mysterious; the man behind washed out remained largely silent between 2011’s within and without and the announcement of his follow-up effort, paracosm.
with the lead-off single “it all feels right,” greene effectively patented something he referred to as “daytime psychedelia.” the trademark washed out vocal manipulations are still present and the overall ambience is similar, but what reigns supreme are the new textures that supplement that ambience. synth sounds are more jarring and angular in comparison to greene’s previous output, which aids in keeping his songs from becoming derivative.
this psychedelic nature reigns supreme throughout paracosm, turning songs like “all i know” and the album’s title track into trippy experiences that slightly recall youth lagoon’s sophomore album from earlier this year. but with all the conscious rejection of chillwave and its surrounding terminology, greene is at his best on songs like “don’t give up” and “all over now,” songs that recall salient traits of the genre.
the end result of paracosm paints a picture of an artist who’s trying to move in a new direction, but is taking his time getting there. this overzealousness in musical reinvention may yield a product slightly inconsistent from what was hinted at, but it’s still a pretty gorgeous spectacle nonetheless.