Published Mar 06, 2020Sixteen-year-old ambient artist Raye Simmons' debut album is a beautiful, soaring collection of tracks produced over the last seven years. Inspired by road trips taken from his hometown of Houston, TX to Phoenix, AZ, it also catalogues, through instrumentals, the trials and tribulations of coming into yourself and the journey of young adulthood.
Fifteen tracks seems a bit long for a debut release, but the whole thing clocks in at just under 42 minutes.
Opening track "Introduction" sets the tone with relaxing bird sounds and slowly rising high notes; a morning welcome to the rest of the album. Followed by soft "Ascend," we begin to see more of the direction that producer Simmons is going in. The bird sounds are mirrored here and the track's tone matches the previous one, and, frankly, much of the rest of the album.
It's easy to see the appeal of this lovely, melodic record. In a world where "Lo-fi hip-hop beats to study/relax to" is a staple musical go-to both in classrooms and at home, Elliptical Escapade fits perfectly into that landscape.
The album is simple, but perhaps that's the goal. Some tracks, such as "Placid," stick out more with bigger low ends. It's almost like meditation music; one can find oneself drifting off while listening to the record in its entirety. "Placid," too, bring a nice change of pace with welcome drums underneath the main track. The layering, which Raye Simmons says is part of his production style — starting off with one or two sounds, and slowly adding more until multiple all work together to create a unified sound. Still, despite some track having likely six or seven layers, the album remains simple and never too complicated.
This is music that isn't challenging to listen to, and it certainly doesn't require some repeat plays in order to confirm what's obvious about it: It's beautiful and soft and peaceful, and, perhaps, in a time where people are constantly running around and often busy just for the sake of being busy, it's something that can offer much-needed pause and a welcome breather. (Independent)