Throughout the course of this site’s ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of ink covering Ernest Greene, a Perry, GA-born, Athens, GA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed synth pop/chillwave act Washed Out. The project can trace it origins back to around 2009: After earning an undergraduate degree and a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Georgia, Greene was unable to find a job as a librarian. Greene moved back in his parents and began writing and producing material in his bedroom studio as well as with a local electro pop act Bedroom.
Shortly after posting Washed Out material on his MySpace page, the Perry-born, Athens-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer was discovered and championed by a number of influential blogs, who compared his sound to Neon Indian and Memory Tapes. He released his first two Washed Out EPs in rapid-fire fashion in August and September of that year. Building upon a growing profile, 2010 saw Greene continue the amazing momentum of the previous year: he played that year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and “Feel It All Around” became the opening theme song for the acclaimed TV series Portlanadia.
In early 2011, Greene signed with Sub Pop Records, who released his his full-length debut Within and Without, an album of icy yet plaintive synth pop to critical applause and commercial success: the album peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 and #89 on the UK Albums Chart. He ended a breakthrough 2011 by co-curating that year’s ATP Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead, UK with Battles.
Greene’s sophomore Washed Out album 2013’s Paracosm was a decided change in sonic direction, as it featured a warmer, tropical-inspired sound that paired organic instrumentation with electronic production — all while retaining the ethereal quality of his previously released material.
2017’s Cole M.G.N. co-produced Mister Mellow was released through renowned hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, and the album took on a bit of a J. Dilla-esque beatmaking feel. Since the release of Mister Mellow, Greene released a handful of singles including “Face Up” as part of Adult Swim’s applauded Singles Series. Earlier this year, the Perry-born, Athens-based artist released “Too Late,” a swooning yet bittersweet bit of synth pop centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, stuttering beats, Greene’s ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook — but with a subtly Mediterranean feel.
As it turns out, “Too Late” was unofficially the first single off Greene’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album Purple Noon. Written, recorded by Greene with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen, the album’s production followed a brief stint of writing with other artists — most notably writing with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena. Those collaborations allowed Green to explore R&B and modern pop and those sounds have made their way into Purple Noon‘s material. Not only is the material reportedly the brightest and more robust sounds he’s ever worked out; it’s also a decided step forward: unlike his previous released work, the vocals are placed front and center at the mix, with slower tempos, bolder, harder-hitting beats and a more comprehensive dynamic depth.
Deriving its name from Rene Clement’s 1960 film Purple Noon, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mister Ripley, the album’s material is deeply inspired by the coastlines of the Mediterranean — with Greene paying tribute to region’s island-based culture, elegance and old-world charm. But the surroundings serve as the backdrop to stories of passion love and loss — with a deeper, perhaps more urgent emotional intensity: the album’s first single “Too Late” is a tale of a first meet, with all the confused and swooning emotions that come about. Continuing in that same vein, Purple Noon‘s second single “Time To Walk Away” told the story of a the disintegration of relationship with an aching sense of loss, confusion and longing.
“Paralyzed” Purple Noon’s third and latest single continues in a a similar vein — brooding, shimmering yet ethereal synth pop with twinkling keys, thumping beats and subtle Mediterranean flavor through the addition of fluttering flute. Greene’s plaintive vocals sing lyrics detailing the power of love and lust with an ache and longing that should feel familiar to all who have been there before.
Directed by acclaimed fashion film director Caroline Koning and shot in her native Holland, the recently released video follows a real-life couple Shay and Dories in their most unguarded and intimate moments, conveying love, lust and longing with a simple look, a smile, a touch of the hand. Considering how dangerous human touch is during an age of pandemic, the video will bring back memories of far simpler times — of intimate moments we all may have had with lovers and even with random hookups.
“Human contact, and something as simple as a touch, has new meaning in the context of today,” Caroline Koning explains in press notes. “These special times make the viewing experience of physical togetherness a different one, and I wanted to tap into that sentiment in a pure way. The couple we follow in the film capture this simplicity beautifully, and what we see on screen all happened very organically. Encapsulating a perhaps general longing for closeness through a very unpretentious narrative gives this spot a natural honesty that I think visualizes the track in a strong manner.”
Washed Out has also announced Purple Noon Nights, a culmination of four months of new tracks and visuals leading up to the new album’s release over four nights this weekend. Beginning this Thursday, August 6th and ending on Sunday, August 9th at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT each night, Washed Out’s Ernest Greene will be hosting a different Purple Noon-related event each night:
Thursday, 8/6: Purple Noon listening party
Friday, 8/7: the Washed Out live band’s first live-streamed concert, performing selected tracks from Purple Noon along with highlights from his catalog
Saturday, 8/8: Q&A with fans via @realwashedout’s Instagram Live account
Sunday, 8/9: Greene will host the sixth in his popular Magic Hour Mix DJ sets, with this set focusing on the Washed Outcatalog
The listening party, full band set, and Magic Hour DJ set will be broadcast live from Washed Out’s YouTube, Facebook, Instagram TV, and Twitch accounts.