Rival Consoles is Ryan Lee West - a London based electronic producer signed to Erased Tapes who has his roots in rock music and is primarily a guitarist. His mission on his new album, Howl was to find the perfect balance between club music and something more personal to listen to at home. The album’s title track is made up from West’s experiments of wiring synths up to guitar pedals, the resulting noises were howl-like. These experiments also inspired a darker tone to the album. His less-is-more approach to composition fits in with the Erased Tapes ethos.
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OK I’ve been looking forward to this all morning because we’ve already had this album on a few times in the office and it’s garnered pretty much universal approval. It’s amazing. Ryan Lee West made some pretty stunning sounds happen with Sonne, sounds you could almost sink your teeth into and feel the spicy tang on your tongue. These are sounds that you could not only sink your teeth into, but also flail around for a bit while they’re still in your mouth. The electronic sound of animals fighting.
With a grounding in house and techno as well as rock guitar apparently, West’s music encompasses low-key melody, thick monolithic synth texture and careful arrangements, particularly in the drum patterns. Coaxed by West, the synth hardware is pushed through FX pedals to snarling point, the pre-human concept of ‘Howl’ becoming directly audible through hissing, tortured circuits. The change in dynamics per track is insane, going from a few airy blips to a full on broiling mass of harmonics in the space of a minute. It’s an incredibly bold production style, making sounds that others might be too sensible to couple with melodies and beats. Take that ludicrous vibrating synth at the beginning of ‘Ghosting’ for example, it instantly places it on a level above. Or those loud blasts at the start of ‘Walls’. Or the entirety of ‘Morning Vox’.
His use of melody is in line with such folks as James Holden, perhaps with fewer bleepybloop whirlwinds. It also has similarities in aesthetic to Holden’s The Inheritors, think about that archaic image on the cover, and snarling tunes like ‘Gone Feral’. It’s much more controlled than Holden though, like pockets of madness, wolves that tear apart and sleep too. Now make like a wolf and listen.
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- Howl by Rival Consoles
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