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Rival Consoles - Now Is (Erased Tapes)


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  • 2 months later...
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Ryan Lee West, aka Rival Consoles, just released via independent London label Erased Tapes, Now Is, a colorful album that can be atmospheric, thoughtful, emotional, and yet an inspiring force. Operating with his characteristic scattering synth stabs and textured reverbs, the artist created a quite mysterious piece composed with beautiful sound elements that roll in and out gently in a superb mix work.

“Beginnings” sets the tone by stating this release has no genre boundaries while it overflows with emotion as its melody grows with grace. “World turns” literally expresses movement not only with panning sounds and a marching distorted kick drum but with a melodic design that reflects a sense of wandering. Its successor, “Eventually,” continues the action motif based on sexy broken beats complemented by ascending sound layers and pulsing pads which express the expectation of change, as in reference to quite inexplicable turns life can be redirected to.

“Frontiers’” downtempo beat dialogues with percussion synths, long fading notes and warm low-end frequencies that create a dark contemporary cinematic (and almost anthemic) feel. My favorite pick, “Vision of Self” shows how West can tell a story through music, even if each listener interprets it subjectively. As its title proposes an inner dive into one’s psyche, its first half dissonant delays evoke strange vibes that Boards of Canada aficionados can easily relate to, like in an enigmatic mind trap. But as the expedition evolves, it turns clearer, and at the peak, an important personal discovery could surface.

Random possibilities of experiences and encounters ::

After the previous euphoria, Rival Consoles shows versatility as the title track brings a warm and deep approach with a constant 4×4 format, which could certainly fit a contemplating and chill down moment of an open-air rave DJ set. “Echoes” keeps the beat drive but in a distinctive aesthetic. It represents a high point in the album as it screams out in a very beautiful and emotional way, which might catch Four Tet fans’ ears due to its percussions, chimes, and timbres.

When we think of the act of running, possibly we’d associate it musically to a constant pace. On the contrary, the “Running” song proposes initial melodic variations that play with the listener in search for a comfortable pattern, which can be related to random possibilities of experiences and encounters as you trot. But still, the apparent discontinuity has the power to propel you to keep on going.

The following track “The Fade,” as well as the album closer “Quiet Home,” are more atmospheric tunes, as the first uses a lead synth that can relate to daydreaming with a dystopian future, the other employs a piano and heavy tape textures which can project our imagination to an isolated dismantling house surrounded by open fields in Iceland. On “A Warning,” Ryan brings more drama to the table not only provided by the organic timbres of the percussion but the human factor of the drums being played, with its unique and subtle dynamics. Now Is should reverberate as one of Ryan’s most remarkable works.

Igloo says things.

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