02 October 2020 (released)
19 November 2020
Alright folks, let's get settled in. Winter is here, the rain or snow has set in and you're hunkering down for the season. This year let's rejoice in winter's diminishing of our insatiable FOMO. It's messy and grey outside, no one should be meeting up anyway. Let's go inward, let's focus on ourselves. Let's come out the other side better people than when we came in. A great ambient album is the perfect score for that living mode.
Cool dulcet tones evoking barren landscapes are the base for Burbank producer Vipid's latest record Memories. The nine-track album is composed of a series of short vignettes that flow rather seamlessly into one calming sonic painting. Though he is based in sunny Burbank, the music exudes the peace and quiet after a first snow. Vipid's tracks are inherently wistful and draw the listener to reflect on their past choices, hence the title Memories. The artist (aka Jarod Simmons) would draw several comparisons to the likes of Bonobo with their shared chillwave vibe.
The gently beeping synths in major melodics give a welcoming sense to the opener 'Home'. The elated, blue sky nature of the track brings to mind the dream pop of French duo Air. 'Night Tides' and 'Vista' continue on with a congruent feel. Though not overtly jarring, the placement of the keys is rather disjointed. It's hard to tell whether this is an intentional disregard of the machine's rhythms to imply syncopation or just unfortunate quantization misfirings by the computer software. The tracks remain jaunty and never derail so this argument may simply be a picky programming nerd's bemoaning.
By the fourth track, 'Dawn' Vipid has hit his stride syncing his beats and melodies nicely to let us drift off into a neon future city bliss. 'Internity' introduces some steady bass guitar to fill the belly as the floating jellyfish-like synths hypnotically swim around. The bass goes for a walk on 'Six' providing a propulsive levity like a helpful boost up a hill. 'Late Night' offers us sublime unencumbered electric piano, vibing with a silky, watery chorus. A moment of zen-like transcendence. 'Lavender Sunset' features cascading California sunset synths over a snappy stop-start beat. The album's most rhythmically engaging track. To finish, 'Fracture' gives us an ocean scene of undertow-pulling bass and static beach waves to end the album on a sunny note.
Overall, Memories is a cool-as-a-cucumber cohesive album on the first few listens. When you put certain songs under the microscope, some cracks in the facade come to light. Either Vipid needs to get his quantizations tightened up or act more decisively on his off-rhythm decisions. Once you are aware of these (very slightly) off-time sections, you can move past it and go back to enjoying it for the smooth ambient electronica that it is.