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London-based musician and producer Ryan Lee West, aka Rival Consoles, creates driving, experimental electronic music that makes synthesisers sound human. His consistent desire to create a more organic, living sound, sees him forming pieces that capture a sense of songwriting behind the machines.
‘Now Is’ marks a new chapter in an ongoing quest for refinement and evolution. More playful and melodic, the album draws from much experimentation in minimalist songwriting and seamlessly blends synthesisers and acoustic instruments. “There are some pieces that are influenced quite strongly by the isolation and anxiety of these times. There are also pieces which are more optimistic and vibrant, which I think is a consistent attitude of my records, as I want art to express many aspects of life.”
From the elevating arrangements of ‘Beginnings’ and motorik beats of ‘World Turns’, to the isolation of ‘Frontiers’, influenced by the barren landscapes of Iceland, Rival Consoles’ eighth studio album subtly morphs and evolves. “The title of the record ‘Now Is’ interests me because it is the beginning of a statement, but it is incomplete. I like art that is open and suggestive of ideas even if they are inspired by very specific things. With my previous record ‘Overflow’ being very dark, heavy and almost dystopian, I wanted to escape into a different world with this music and ended up creating a record which is a lot more colourful and euphoric.”
For the sonic ‘Vision of Self’, West looked to create the kind of movement and colour a string section in an orchestra would construct, but with synthesisers. “I think there’s a lot of synergy between the two worlds. I wanted to create a hypnotic journey, where the synths and sounds weave in and out of each other, so you get lost in the music and don’t know where one sound starts or another ends.” This “journey” West refers to is symbiotic of the way he has approached music throughout a progressive career – an ongoing project that is never static and always moving forward.
A sense of euphoria is reached with the pulsating title track which bursts into colour like the appearance of the summer sun, while ‘Echoes’ is a vivid exploration of rhythm and sound for summer nights. The track starts with a dense collage of modular synths, fragmented metallic tones, broken sounding drums and a downcast melodic synth line. “This is a piece where the main melody has been in my head for a long time and was just waiting to come out. I kind of think of it as the sonic equivalent to an impressionist painting in that I wanted to explore the sensation of lots of small layers of different colours and textures that are constantly moving around each other.”
2. World Turns
5. Vision Of Self
6. Now Is
9. The Fade
10. A Warning
11. Quiet Home