Rival Consoles
Howl


2.9
good

Review

by StrangerofSorts STAFF
October 17th, 2015 | 12 replies


Release Date: 10/16/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Howl comes from nowhere and goes someplace similar

The basic script for this review is so obvious I don’t want to write it. Here it is in a sentence: Erased Tapes, not Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins but not, 2014-era Throwing Snow but not, not quite anything really, still fun, called the wrong tune “Howl”. You get the gist.

Ryan West really did call the wrong track “Howl”, though, and it’s annoying enough to focus on. “Howl” is a relatively stock example of recent Rival Consoles material, which means the kind of pulse-heavy, visceral electronic aesthetic of Jon-you-know-who with a little more rhythm and a whole lot less melody. It fits him into a small group of barely group-able UK producers who, despite sharing similar, almost-experimental trappings, are utterly detached from any tangible scene in particular. This is worth bringing up because a bit more interaction with the locals might have made the howl (in “Howl) a little less pathetic. When it comes, it’s weak – I want to find whatever synthesiser stammered out that excuse and ask for it again, but this time with feeling.

There is a wall West never quite breaks through and it isn’t even his fault. Not directly anyway, he could have avoided it, but on its own – maybe a decade or so ago – Howl would have been fine. His problem is the existence of Perc and Truss, of Kahn & Neek and Rabit, of The Bug. UK Bass, which Rival Consoles can’t be said to be a part even if it is competing, has become dark. We’re pumping out the kind of nightmare fuel fit for a country with a quarter-century hold on drugged up, Dionysiac ecstasy. Howl’s completely domesticated in comparison.

West gets close. “Walls” growls like it was ripped straight from Throwing Snow’s Mosaic, in a good way, and the staccato rhythms midway through “Loom” give a satisfyingly jagged rush. However, despite the effort to give a few more goes at howling (both of these tracks do a better job than “Howl” itself), results are still too tame. The textural harshness and power these sounds need just isn’t there, and they lack impact as a result.

Howl fairs better when it isn’t trying to be abrasive. West’s stab at melodic, laid back techno is pleasant, as well as much more entertaining than label-mate Nils’ recent efforts with Olafur Arnalds. The cinematic and drum-roll-heavy build-up of “Low” is also interesting even if it feels slightly out of place. I’d have liked it to go on further too: maybe relaxing into a plateau for a few more minutes instead of quickly scaling down. In any case, there’s a lack of consistency here. West is reaching out for a lot of different things and I’m not entirely sure where he is reaching from.

Still, despite its frustratingly monadic nature Howl does hold attention. When played live, professional-grade soundsystems can help to give West’s songs the push they need to break through this time-worn desensitivity. But even then there’s something missing. Make the sounds as harsh as you like: it won’t change the fact Howl reaches out for a crowd yet feels scene-less – somehow detached. I’ve had the album for a month and still can’t work out what it is trying to do. It doesn’t sound like it comes from anywhere, so who is Howl for"

The answer’s clear – it’s the same people who are reading this. You. You dislocated, globally spread audience. There’s nothing wrong with that at all – you’re fine, it’s fine – but it releases Howl into the stream feeding our online appetite with nothing to slow it down. Soundcloud hit one day; forgotten the next, because there is nothing it is a part of or anyone in particular to champion or cherish it. For the same reason, I struggle to break in. And why should I try" Do I dance or analyse or relax or what" Because I don’t know. Howl comes from nowhere and goes someplace similar, so it just flows past, as many albums do.




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user ratings (23)
Chart.
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2015


2905 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

where does it come from? where does it go?

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 17th 2015


29585 Comments


Awesome review and summary

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
October 17th 2015


6681 Comments


http://www.erasedtapes.com/store/index/ERATP076

"Erased Tapes, not Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins but not, 2014-era Throwing Snow but not, not quite anything really, still fun, called the wrong tune “Howl”. You get the gist."
- had to read a couple times due to sentence structuring but sure i feel u.

closing para is cool, and really indicative of so many identity-less electronic albums, unfortunately.

on a similar note - and speaking of Rabit - Communion is a rad album. check that out.

StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2015


2905 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Awesome review and summary


Thanks!

Communion is a rad album. check that out.


I will when it's out (; But yeah the couple of songs I've heard from it are intense - there's a great RinseFM set he did recently too.

Sniff
October 18th 2015


5351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Loving that summary

Yotimi
October 18th 2015


7469 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Recovery" from his last EP is phenomenal - prob top 5 of the decade for me. This album kinda wavers around that sound enough for me to really like it. Never reaches the awesomeness of Recovery though

trackbytrackreviews
October 18th 2015


3375 Comments


Rival Consoles


XB1 >

Arp
October 19th 2015


1 Comments


wow! i have never seen such an arrogant, self indulgent review for years. "Jon-you-know-who with a little more rhythm and a whole lot less melody." do you know anything about melody? coz howl is more melodic than what you are referencing, so that is wrong.

all your references are so wrong, its embarrassing, Rival consoles isn;t influenced by house, techno, etc he is influenced by bands, song writers. research more instead of obsessing about your own opinion.






StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2015


2905 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

I'm sorry, whoever you are. I don't usually respond to assholes but you made a whole account and everything so I'd feel bad leaving you hanging.

I do know about melody, and you can pick and choose songs from both to fit both, but West's talked about his commitment to "pulse" and exploring what he can do with that over anything else (wasn't it in the bio for this album?). He's going for that rhythm, baby.

Influence doesn't matter - although your point about that is kind of confusing anyway, do you have a reference for that? - because this isn't 1980 and I'm not writing up an interview for NME. What matters is the context in which an album is received and the kind of people who are actually going to listen to it. There's lots of cool articles and books you can (if you can...) read about this kind of stuff.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
October 20th 2015


6681 Comments


Louis Arp alt 100% confirmed ^^

mindleviticus
October 20th 2015


9590 Comments


tore the fuck up by jonny

I like this a lot more than that Ruhe album honestly

osmark86
February 25th 2016


8346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought this was engaging for what it is. The context is what you get from it imo. Good write up, but I don't seem to have been as adamant as you in looking for a clear cut scene-attachment. This works fine as is ^^.

Digging: KAS:ST - Dysphoria | Euphoria (Chapter 1)



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