Washed Out (4 stars)

This article is from 2011

Washed Out

Photography | Dan Wilton

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Sun 14 Aug 2011

Okay, we might be calling it ‘chillwave’ up above, but that’s not actually what we were hearing at this, a set which lovers of below-ground music had been hotly anticipating at this year’s Edge festival. Where Atlanta, Georgia’s Ernest Greene makes sparse but epic and emotion-drenched electronica in his home studio, his live show is an altogether different proposition. Unlike Oneohtrix Point Never, another American artist whose music pushes at the edges of what one producer can do with as little equipment as you can stow under your seat on an Easyjet flight, Greene has decided upon the full works for his live show.

Daniel Lopatin (aka Mr Point Never) had divided the crowd when playing the same venue at the same festival exactly one week previous, turning up with a lone laptop show which was beautiful to listen to, if not exactly fearful of inertia. Here, Greene’s set had a similarly divisive effect. By touring with a full band which on occasion stretched to six people on stage, he’s crafted a proper live show – with musicians and eye contact and human interaction and all that kind of stuff – albeit one which essentially shifts the focus of his music.

Where the on-record Washed Out is shimmering and ethereal, the on-stage version is upfront and in your face by comparison. Not that they’re noisy or hyperactive or anything like that, but there’s a solid definition to their music that might not necessarily be approved of by all their avowed fans. Take ‘Eyes Be Closed’, the first track from the recent debut album Within and Without, for example: both the recorded and live iterations remind of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, although the latter owes more to the early-90s warehouse rave overtones of the record.

In songs like ‘Beyond’ and ‘Far Away’ there are hints of both New Order and MGMT, a retro-futurist memory of club music as both emerging underground phenomenon and nostalgic concern, with the dots carefully drawn between the sounds of a three-decade history which exists outside the confines of the mainstream. It is, in short, a great and fluid dance music set which will excite anyone who takes it on its own terms, with the feeling being that Greene’s happy to get out of the bedroom. He gees the crowd, telling him how much he loves them and their city and insisting that they ‘take it up a notch’, emphasising the suggestion that maybe this is the kind of set he always intended to play.

Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed

Washed Out

  • 4 stars

Aka Ernest Greene from Georgia, who plays blissed-out synth pop. Part of the Edge Festival.