|Rival Consoles — Persona (2018)|
Rival Consoles — Persona (13 Apr 2018)• The composer walks us through the analog~heavy production processes behind his latest album. Rival Consoles is an electronic musician from England who creates driving, experimental dance tracks primarily with analog equipment. Over the course of his career, his music has ranged from challenging IDM to more overtly club~oriented electro~house to more intricate compositions using acoustic instrumentation.
• Born Ryan Lee West on November 10, 1985, in Leicester, England, he made his Erased Tapes Records debut in 2007 as Aparatec with the glitchy, acid~tinged Vemeer EP. Later in 2007, he premiered his Rival Consoles moniker with the Decadent EP, which combined galloping breakbeats with increasingly complex and dramatic synthesizer melodies and arrangements. Continuing his harder~edged IDM sound, the 7” EP Helvetica was released in 2009. During the same year, he also released two more dancefloor~oriented recordings: 65/Milo, a split EP with Kiasmos; and his full~length album debut, IO, which garnered substantial acclaim. Rival Consoles provided remixes for a variety of his Erased Tapes labelmates, including Nico Muhly, Codes in the Clouds, and Canon Blue.
• His second full~length, Kid Velo, arrived in 2011, finding West continuing to hone his bright electro~house sound, which was increasingly resembling Ed Banger Records artists such as Justice. With more of a minimal, experimental feel than his full~lengths, the Odyssey EP was released in 2013. The following year’s Sonne EP continued in this direction, and featured West’s acoustic guitar playing and drumming. Erased Tapes compiled the two vinyl EPs onto a CD release in 2015, as West toured with Clark and Nosaj Thing and worked on his third full~length. Titled Howl, the album surfaced in October of 2015, and found West constructing inventive tracks from just a few layers of his own instrument playing. Following the breakup of a 13~year relationship, West released the mini~album Night Melody in August of 2016. Persona, titled after the Ingmar Bergman film, followed in 2018. While containing a few dance tracks, the album focused more on ambient, modern classical, and shoegaze influences. ~ Jason Birchmeier & Paul Simpson
Location: Leicester, England
Album release: 13 Apr 2018
Record Label: Erased Tapes
01 Unfolding 5:58
02 Persona 7:04
03 Memory Arc 2:13
04 Phantom Grip 5:12
05 Be Kind 4:08
06 I Think So 4:34
07 Sun’s Abandon 5:39
08 Dreamer’s Wake 5:04
09 Untravel 5:52
10 Rest 3:46
11 Hidden 7:38
12 Fragment 1:39
Erased Tapes Records Ltd.
• Artwork and photography by Özge Cöne
• Design by FELD
• The title ‘Persona’ was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, specifically a shot in the opening credits of a child reaching out to touch a woman’s face on a screen, which is shifting between one face and another. This powerful image struck Ryan and it inspired the album’s main theme — an exploration of the persona, the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us, the spaces in between; between states, people, light and dark, the inner persona and the outer persona.
• “My music is generally inward looking. I like finding something about the self within music, that doesn’t have to be specific but maybe asks something or reveals something. This record is a continuation on the self through electronic sounds. Like Legowelt once said ‘a synthesiser is like a translator for unknown emotions’, which I think sums up what I am trying to do. I think all these emotions we have make up our persona. So in a way by finding new ones you alter or expand your persona. And that is what I want my music to try to do. I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.” — Rival Consoles
• Recorded at his studio in south~east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue~heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze~level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’. The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”.
• ‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” Taking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed.
By Daniel Sylvester, Published Apr 09, 2018; Score: 8
• Over the past decade, Ryan Lee West (aka Rival Consoles) has been crafting a brand of instrumental electronic music that has come off earnest, affecting and downright human. And with his latest LP, Persona, the Leicester, UK musician has found further inspiration from a very particular celluloid muse. Upon seeing a scene from the 1966 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name (in which a child is reaching out towards a woman’s face), West based his fourth album around the specific feeling the flick’s opening images invoked. With titles such as “Memory Arc,” “Sun’s Abandon” and “Dreamer’s Wake,” West constructs a soundscape where each beat is rounded and faded while melodies ebb and flow into each other.
• Tracks like “Unfolding,” “Rest” and “Fragment” help draft up this affecting visage, as West allows rhythms to reveal themselves as the songs unravel, never cluttering the melodies, while keeping BPMs tempered and ideas simple but absorbing. Introducing barely audible and comprehensible vocal samples into “Sun’s Abandon” and “Dreamer’s Wake” perfectly validates West’s dedication to keeping musical choices subtle and natural feeling.
• As the album comes to a close, “Rest” and “Hidden” begin to work off of fuzzy, pulsating beats and slow, trancelike synth passages, proving that Rival Consoles certainly holds a blueprint to the dreamworld contained within Persona.
By Rory Foster / 13 APRIL 2018, 09:30 BST / Score: 7.5
• The music of Rival Consoles gives ghostly electronic music a tiny beating heart — making synths, echoes and all manner of crafted sounds feel uniquely human and emotional.
• On Persona, this sound has once again taken a step forward in craft. Though the direction of the music hasn’t changed substantially, Ryan Lee West’s 4th album as Rival Consoles is subtler and more intricate than past work. As a veteran member of Erased Tapes, his music has transformed from IDM~rooted electronic music to something totally ownable, previously culminating in 2015’s Howl, and 2016’s Night Melody, both of which cemented Rival Consoles’ reputation as a caretaker of some of the most interesting electronic music.
• Much like Jon Hopkins, his music straddles the club and the bedroom from one track to the other, but unlike Hopkins’ masterpiece Immunity, Persona doesn’t have as cemented its journey as a whole body of work. With Persona, there’s more variety than on any past release of Ryan’s. 12 tracks make up the LP, and although clearly all with the same idea at heart, that variety can sometimes play against itself. Some tracks stop compeltely before the next starts, some blend. Some completely change shape during their 7 minute length, others build slowly and fade away, others are short, independent recordings. Though never inidividually out of place, it makes the album a little harder to follow as one full recording. But in many ways more rewarding with multiple listens.
• The strengths of Rival Consoles’ sound is it’s depth. A production process that combines analogue~heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electronic instruments, the sounds of Persona are rich, delicate, and heavy when they need to be. The title track is a relentless 7 minute floor~filler, whilst “Untravel” is a sombre and beautiful repeated refrain that for 5 minutes bends and builds, and colapses away again. Likewise “Unfolding” takes a more agressive approach, starting loud before manifesting itself with an imprivisational feel. Closing track “Fragment” is a achingly simple 100 seconds of warm textures and light pads.
• Hearing all the different shapes Ryan can give his distinct sound is what’s most fascinating about Persona, and has kept me coming back for more. It’s a masterclass in modern electronic soundcraft that unveils new surprises at each listen. And each listen helps to start piece together the overall shape of the album, something which remains a little shrouded throughout. But its length, and depth, is also Persona’s strength. An album to get lost in and to discover bits of wonder along the way. / Ryan can give his distinct sound is what’s most fascinating about Persona, and has kept me coming back for more. It’s a masterclass in modern electronic soundcraft that unveils new surprises at each listen. And each listen helps to start piece together the overall shape of the album, something which remains a little shrouded throughout. But its length, and depth, is also Persona’s strength. An album to get lost in and to discover bits of wonder along the way. • https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
• Howl started out as arpeggios of a single note, to create a driving rhythm, always pushing forward, with very rough home record percussion. But it started to really interest me when I began bending the pitch of dark, fuzzy tones over this. I think this synth has a really vocal like quality to it — almost mournful.
• Here you can hear very subtle pads, before an eruption of me flicking through octaves as I play C Bm D C. I did this twice, once on the Microkorg and once on the Prophet 8. I love how it opens up the music, like going from a narrow image to IMAX. I think that is an important way to explore music.
• I’ve used guitar with synth a few times. This particular sound on guitar is something I created on Helios — it’s an FFT plugin shifting octaves with delay — not too much effect, though! I love the way the guitar has a broken but sweet sound to it, and it works great with the dull pad sound from the Prophet 08. This kind of contrast is something that runs throughout the record.
• I love pulses in music — especially electronic music. I don’t know if I always have or if it is some kind of Steve Reich/Riley influence. They just seem to achieve a lot with little room taken up. Anyway, here I created a very specific pulse, which gives the arpeggios something to harmonize with. It’s like a beacon, that keeps illuminating, and I love that in music.
• This is purely influenced by seeing Colin Stetson live. I was just shocked by the absolute slabs of tone that were smashing through the air; it was incredible. I wanted to created a piece that had big monophonic tones like this, hence “walls”’ meaning “walls of sound.” It’s no way near as rich as Stetson, but I think I achieved something interested by combining it with very delicate ambient tones. Huge contrast in this piece!
• This track is just one repeating chord progression but with subtle harmonies throughout. Here you can hear a fragile melody playing and then I include the main tones, which make it clear what the chords are. Everything is monophonic, building up chords with mono lines is hard work but really powerful, because you listen more to the sound and aren’t so judgmental about chords theory.
• This ambient improvisation is made up of a very noisy recording of my voice. I just sampled me singing a note and looped it in Ableton Sampler. The clip shows just the note I sang at original pitch, being looped as I hold down a note. This is pretty basic, but for some reason this was really special to me — it just sounds great to play with. I love how sad/mysterious it sounds.
• This clip shows some pulses I created: The first two are very open, and the second two are more closed (and this repeats) — even though this seems obvious to anyone, I was amazed how musical this was when I did it. It just has more meaning and really adds something. I’ve included the vocal synth and acoustic guitar, to show how it works with them.
• I love trying to create atmosphere — here is the breakdown in the piece, playing the chords C Am E Em. It’s just three layers of different tones; they are not perfectly in time, because I like chords that are a little wonky in time. To me, this creates texture — and texture is often lacking in synths. All the synth tones are slightly bending out of tune and might have a slight rhythmic value to them as well, which makes the chords sound more alive and evolving, but without loads of complex automation/modulation.
• https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/ /
Interview, William Ralston: https://www.xlr8r.com/features/2015/10/qa-rival-consoles/
|Rival Consoles — Persona (April 13, 2018)|