Single Review: Rival Consoles’ Highly Complex Simplicity In ‘Articulation’

Rival Consoles | Articulation (single) | Erased Tapes

Release Date: 29 May, 2020

Album Release Date: 31 July, 2020

For electronic musician Ryan Lee West, known under his musical alias Rival Consoles; there is always a new approach to creating music that needs to be explored. His diligence follows a distinct, dynamic thought in which he resolves to take his skill and personality as an artist, drawing from his growth and reflection upon the electronic music realm, and shape it into something that he truly resonates with.

In anticipation of his upcoming album ‘Articulation’, and the release of the single (titular track); the artist approached the album with a new way of thinking, a different take on composition – for him, ‘Articulation’ is born from imagery – the intricacies of patterns and shapes that intertwine with one another, the detailed language which fires like neurons between them. Just as music theory and mathematics can be considered languages in their own right, the way visual imagery interacts swirls with a life of its own.

I find electronic music is often battling to say something with integrity because technology and production can easily get in the way. I think the goal of a lot of electronic composers is to find a balance between the vision of the idea and the power of possibilities on the computer. With a pen and paper sketch you can compose and rethink ideas without technology getting in the way, so for me it acts as a very helpful tool to refresh the process.

Ryan Lee West / Rival Consoles

 Similarly to fractals – infinitely repeating patterns, each complex and intricately interwoven within the context of their chaotic symbiosis – entirely unique but never separate from the whole – this type of conversation between detailed imagery and West’s chosen context allows for his sound to take on a new meaning, while creating something entirely of its own.

Articulation‘ is crafted in a manner that creates a very specific and somewhat oddly personal experience – it feels as though it’s not only conversing with the listener, but the intricacy of West’s composition creates a soundscape in which the electronic textures are conversing with one another: we could be both an insider and outsider when listening to ‘Articulation’. As an insider, it’s an experience of immersion in the distinct language of West’s equipment, the musicality of the track being our way of understanding – bold, rattling rhythms, consonant dancefloor beats, that effortlessly encourage a playful sense of movement, lush ambience and the candy-coated melodic harmonies that are spellbinding and hypnotic.

From another perspective, as an outsider West has constructed ‘Articulation‘ in such a way that is not as typically straightforward or simplistic as one might expect of certain genres of electronic music; throughout the track, the exceptionally complex and intriguing elements of the specific electronic textures and rich soundscapes he’s crafted can feel as though we are listening to those sounds communicating with one another, completely oblivious of us in a separate extraterrestrial realm, perhaps in a foreign language.

While there is a steady 4/4 time signature running throughout the track, the manner in which the textures communicate with one another are mesmerising as they present an aura of syncopation, presented as being out of time when in reality it isn’t at all – especially in the track’s opening – which for many can be quite obscure in nature, even though the track is inherently constructed in a way we can fluidly resonate with. As the track builds to its lavish, highly atmospheric and cinematic crescendo nearing the ending, the progression is a lot more straightforward, allowing us to feel very much like insiders once again. ‘Articulation‘ somehow manages to be incredibly complex with copious amounts of very particular and intriguing details, while still remaining accessible – a midnight cloaked track that would be lovingly shared on the dancefloor, but is extremely enthralling and unique in its overall construction.

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Rating: 8 / 10

Feature Image: Rival Consoles by Özge Cöne