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Now Hear This: Memories - Vipid

Rating: ***

Ambient music has been a commercial thing since Brian Eno released ‘Music for Airports’ in 1978, and here’s the deal with the genre—there’s a fine line between relaxing music that is healing and transformative, and relaxing music that doesn’t go anywhere.

The former (Eno, Liquid Mind) can be a welcome balm in jangly times, whereas the latter just makes you think of that kid in high school band who got a new programmable keyboard and makes you listen to all the cool sounds it can make. Luckily, most of the newest offering from producer/artist Jared Simmons, known here as Vipid, is first-category ambient music.

The brief opening track, “Home,” sounds pretty, but doesn’t say anything new per se, relying on a three-note arpeggiated chord and…not much else. It ends before it’s repetition gets tedious, though.. The album gets a little drive from “Night Tides,” a tune that gets its power from a distinctly 80’s-sounding drum loop.

Up next is the moodier, and interesting, “Vista.” Here, synth strings inject some bite, and the percussion sounds fresh and new. Again, it gets repetitive at about the two-minute mark. Still solid stuff here, however.

“Dawn” gets things mostly right, as the metronome-like quality gives a nice contrast to the noodling of the keys. And the awkwardly-named “Internity” (seriously, ambient composers—stop trying to come up with ‘clever’ titles) is a high point, with a great, skittering synthesized snare part, and a cheeky false stop in the middle.

The sixth piece on ‘Memories,’ appropriately titled “Six,” is a solid effort, with a decent groove and a few surprising guitar sounds for extra spice. But it wasn’t until the seventh track (sadly not titled “Seven”) that I wanted to play it again almost immediately. Called “Late Night,” this is a warm and nurturing slab of ambience that shows Vipid knows how to do justice to the genre.

This is followed by the engaging push-pull vibe of “Lavender Sunset,” and at this point you feel that Simmons has really hit his stride with “Lavender Sunset, along with “Late Night” right before it, and the album’s dark closer, “Fracture,” make for a solid (and original) statement.

I recommend ‘Memories” as a whole, although a few cuts might be worth skipping. I found it rock-solid ambient music, with some of the standout tracks deserving of the most judgmental electro-heads Spotify playlists.

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