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Rival Consoles Persona Erased Tapes

Rival Consoles, aka Ryan Lee West, has always stood out as an anomaly on the Erased Tapes label. Ever since his earliest excursions – such as 2007’s The Decadent EP or his 2009 debut album, IO – West has drawn from abstract techno and IDM to make what is ostensibly dance music. His sound is far heavier to that of the neoclassical composers who make up the roster. And yet, on his fifth album and most high profile release, Persona, it’s possible to discern similarities with label-mates Nils Frahm or Ólafur Arnalds.

With beats or without, West’s skill lies in coaxing melancholy feeling from his instruments – something his label mates excel at, too. Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film of the same title, Persona finds West exploring introspective moods within the linear beat structures of techno, amid quieter ambient moments. Coating his synth sounds in distortion and thick layers of tape on Memory Arc, he conjures an epic, spine-tingling mood. On the title track, waves of pitch-bent shoegaze electronics break in dramatic fashion over 4/4 beats and swung percussive rhythms. Untravel has a spiralling trance riff you can imagine powering some late 90s Gatecrasher anthem, but with the beats removed, it has a mournful air. The best moment comes with Be Kind, a quietly devastating piece of echo-soaked Rhodes keys and delay-laden crackle. Persona is without doubt his best yet.