Rival Consoles
Articulation


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex H USER (9 Reviews)
July 31st, 2020 | 33 replies


Release Date: 07/31/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shapes and colours.

On Rival Consoles’ previous album Persona, English musician Ryan Lee West imagined his own score for Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 arthouse classic. His deep, immersive techno ably reflected the film’s themes: forlorn analog synthesizers and glitching percussion wandered in the mix, inter-meshing in sensual but occasionally violent ways then floating out into delirious entropy. For his new full-length Articulation, West composed the music based on a sketches of colours and shapes, which ultimately doesn’t feel that far off from Persona’s influence; the characters of that film felt like they were blurring at the edges themselves, mired in eerie emotional hues. While the album is conceptually scaled back, it’s a strong continuation and refinement of Rival Consoles’ chilly, distant, and yet cathartic IDM.

West completely eschews acoustic instrumentation on this album, but the bellowing synths, uneasy drum machine loops, and omnipresent glitch sounds feel anything but rigid and mechanical. A hurtling sense of momentum propels the best songs here, recalling the energy of live performance. The glimmering title track is one of his most engaging songs yet, building frenetically over six minutes. The frosty synths that introduce “Forwardism” feel stringed to the kick drum, but ascend ominously through the increasingly chaotic mix as their tethers are slowly cut. Closing track “Sudden Awareness of Now” reaffirms that even without lofty concepts, Rival Consoles can work small wonders: with its agitated synth stabs over swirling gusts of percussion and drones, it feels like intense memories swarming chaotically around you, and as the song dies down you feel like you’ve been stripped apart and reassembled. Rather than being beholden to repeating phrases or drum patterns, West glides confidently through moods and sections, the album feeling simultaneously whimsical and thoroughly considered.

Articulation fumbles slightly in its sparser songs, their vaporous arrangements coming up short against the more energetic material. “Melodica” drifts by without leaving much impression, featuring a digitized koto drowned out in reverb over rolling pads that just sort of ends, while the beatless “Still Here” has one of West’s sweetest melodies that recalls crowd pleasing chill-out electronica like Tycho: a pleasant song, but it flirts uncomfortably with that act’s propensity for blandness. These languid tracks don’t necessarily feel earned on this otherwise taut half-hour record; they work much better when considering Articulation as a whole, continuous piece, which is hardly a stretch given the album’s wonderfully fluid sequencing.

Articulation doesn’t quite reach the skyscraping highs of Persona, but that isn’t too surprising: the compositions on that album were hinged to a compelling concept that explored identity, confusion, eroticism and existential anguish, aspects not particularly inherent in abstract shapes on a page. Still, Articulation is another immersive release on which West slightly expands his humanistic electronic music. It’s a captivating record that will continue to unfurl the more you put yourself into it.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
MotokoKusanagi
July 31st 2020


3198 Comments


cool a techno/house/idm review

i liked Persona, i'll have to give this a listen

helperoni
July 31st 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if you liked Persona you'll probably enjoy this, very similar. nothing quite as good as something like Sun's Abandon on here though, imo.

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ChoccyPhilly
July 31st 2020


12619 Comments


aww yeah, nice one. Gonna listen to this over the weekend

Digging: Oliver Tree - Ugly Is Beautiful

nightbringer
July 31st 2020


1295 Comments


Will give this a read tomorrow. I've listened to the album a few times now. Definitely doesn't seem as immediate as Persona. I'm somewhat underwhelmed but also pretty certain I want to keep spending time with this.

Kaleid
August 1st 2020


743 Comments


Really liking this so far. Great review too, I like your style.

helperoni
August 1st 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you!

Ryus
August 1st 2020


19356 Comments


cool, havent heard this but always good to see more electronic on sput

gonna check this

Relinquished
August 1st 2020


45084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

solid stuff

CosmicPie
August 1st 2020


2604 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Taking note. Need to hear this.

Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2020


8156 Comments


Persona was awesome, didnt know this was in the works

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ADemonicSloth
August 1st 2020


44 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. It’s a really nice release. Kinda wish there was more though, it’s half the length of Persona. Feels more like an EP.

nightbringer
August 1st 2020


1295 Comments


Yeah it's definitely on the slim side.

Trifolium
August 1st 2020


17061 Comments


I really liked Sonne but nothing else has really stuck with me. Going to check, great that it got reviewed!

Avagantamos
August 1st 2020


6985 Comments


thank you for reviewing electronic music on sputnikmusic dot com

Ryus
August 1st 2020


19356 Comments


there are so many albums i want to review but i have no writing skill

Shiranui
August 1st 2020


668 Comments


Just checked Persona literally because of your comments and that album was quite an experience. I'm usually not the guy for this kind of music, so this is comes as a nice surprise. Will listen to more from this dude's catalogue for sure.

Digging: Haken - Virus

helperoni
August 1st 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Persona was probably my aoty

Shiranui
August 1st 2020


668 Comments


Title track and closer are pretty dope on here.

helperoni
August 2nd 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed.

bloc
August 2nd 2020


62097 Comments


So like Playstation vs. N64?

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