This Rival Consoles article was written by Hazel Webster, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
Rival Consoles is the recording and performing guise of Ryan Lee West, a producer from Leicester who is now based in London. He is best known for using synthesisers in such a way that makes them sound more organic or, if you prefer, practically human. ‘Howl’ is West’s third album, having previously released ‘IO’ (2009) and ‘Kid Velo’ (2011) along with several singles and EP’s.
The album’s title track ‘Howl’ is made up of many different sounds layered on top of one another, creating a build-up of intensity and tension throughout before dropping the pace and soothing that tension away again. It may not sound remarkably different to other tracks which you may have heard, but what sets ‘Howl’ aside from anything else is the obvious effort that West pours into his music to create the feeling of something which is more than just synth-electronica, but is something that can be enjoyed equally in the home environment, or as a live performance.
As with much of West’s music, it can be difficult to distinguish whether an actual instrument is being played or if it is created purely by electronic means. ‘Afterglow’ is no exception and this is likely down to the fact that he initially drafts much of his works on a guitar or piano, giving it an air of traditionally composed music before transforming the track with a synthesiser.
Which brings us to ‘Walls’, the fifth track on ‘Howl’. Listening to this track is akin to going on a trip without the need for drugs. To be clear, in no part of this review is the use of illegal substances condoned, the same effect can be achieved perfectly legally just by obtaining a copy of this album.
The shortest track on the album, ‘3 Laments,’ features the tranquility of ocean waves with electronic sounds layered on top. It partly wants to make you feel chilled while simultaneously messing with your mind; totally bizarre, but fun all the same. There are no vocals anywhere on this album, just bare bones electronica, so if you love that kind of style then you will really love ‘Howl’.