London-based producer Ryan Lee West, better known under the name Rival Consoles, is notable for making synthesisers sound human and atmospheric.
It’s rarely reported that Rival Consoles was Erased Tapes’ very first signing, with a CDR of early demos under the name Aparatec that inspired founder Robert Raths to start the label in 2007. Indeed West has more in common with his contemporaries Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick than some might think. His consistent desire to create a more organic, humanised sound sees West often draft early ideas on traditional, acoustic instruments like the guitar or the piano; forming pieces that capture a sense of songwriting behind the electronics.
Fascinated by sound from an early age, Ryan chose to dedicate his time to studying and producing sound, graduating from De Montfort University in his hometown Leicester. In the early years as a recording artist West continued to experiment with a broad palette of electronic sounds, from his emotive yet glitch-heavy Vemeer EP, The Decadent EP and 2009’s Helvetica, to the French electro-inspired full-length albums IO and Kid Velo, released in 2011.
It was with the release of his Odyssey and Sonne EPs in 2013 and 2014 that West started gaining more of a reputation for making thoughtful electronica that spans a wider spectrum of musical ideas. Foremost a guitarist, growing up listening to rock rather than club music, his last full-length album Howl released in 2015 saw West strive towards finding a more personal balance between music for home listening and larger spaces.
Having repeatedly performed at such prestigious venues as the Tate, and having created a bespoke audio-visual performance for Boiler Room at the V&A Museum, the blueprint for West’s current live A/V show was formed. Featuring self-programmed visuals in Max/MSP has earned him appearances at music festivals around the world including Moogfest, FORM, Mutek, Big Ears, Lovebox and Berghain’s Pop-Kultur Festival, as well as tours in support of Clark, Nosaj Thing, Luke Abbott and Kiasmos.
2016 marked the release of Ryan’s new mini album Night Melody, born out of and shaped by long hours working into the night. Having previously remixed the likes of Jon Hopkins, Vessels, Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm, further commissions followed from Max Cooper, Noisia, Sasha and UNKLE band Toydrum.
Recorded at his studio in south-east London, Ryan’s 2018 release Persona benefits from his exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesizers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, the project represents an exploration of the persona, the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us, the spaces in between; between states, people, light and dark, the inner persona and the outer persona.