Found Sound: Rival Consoles

01.10.15

'Howl' is the new album by London-based electronic producer Rival Consoles (known as Ryan Lee West), which is set for release through Erased Tapes on October 16th. Foremost a guitarist, West grew up listening to rock over club music. Heavily influenced by his core choice of instrument, he even named his forthcoming Erased Tapes release after howl-like tones he developed by running synths through guitar pedals. 

His interests in the acoustic realm aside, West has more in common with his contemporaries Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick than you might expect, with word on the street being that he was one of the label's first signings (under the Aparatec moniker). His deeply ingrained urge to create a more organic, humanised sound – paired with his quest to find a balance between music for home listening and larger spaces – sees West often drafting early ideas on traditional, acoustic instruments like the guitar or the piano; forming pieces that dive deeper than the surface of electronics, capturing the sense of songwriting and composition that lies beneath.

West comments: "This album features a lot of my own recordings, rather than simply using samples that I have sitting on my computer. This gives the album a more personal feeling, which is very important to me because I think we live in a time where there is just so much recorded material out there, and accessible at a click of a button, that the joy of recording your own drum sounds, your own percussion, your own claps, seems redundant – but it’s not! That should be a priority because its often more interesting and makes you choose a different creative path."

A fan of field recordings and sampling, Rival Consoles shared album track Walls with us. Taken from 'Howl', its an unexpected sample that goes beyond the usual Found Sound, and reminds us of a office interlude in the stationary cupboard, where somebody shouts, "How many reams left?" Or maybe writing a note to self, a shopping list, a confession….then screwing it up and starting again.

"The essence of this album was made with a few synths, some guitar pedals and lots of cups of tea. I hope you’ll enjoy it." – Rival Consoles

We caught up with Rival Consoles to gain a little insight on the recording and whether the sample means hes a rock, scissors or stone man. Check out the sound below and head to The FADER for an exclusive listen of Walls.

Hello there, how's life treating you?
Rival Consoles: "I’m doing great. I’ve received a huge amount of support for my work over the past few years and I’m seeing a lot of the world, so I'm very happy."

Are you a fan of field recordings and do you use them often in your work?
Rival Consoles: "I am a big fan of field recordings; I think it’s a way to enrich language of music. I love how they release the pressure on traditional values as well as enhance them. It’s a way of referencing something outside of electronic music, which is important because I think electronic music becomes more meaningful when it plays off the real world."
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What drew you to recording this sample?

Rival Consoles: "I wanted the synth sounds to rustle and fizz up in terms of energy and movement, so I immediately thought of this paper recording I made ages ago. To me it just works perfectly in the final section of the track, because it binds with the synth in a way that feels very natural but is very important, because it enhances the synth."
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Tell us about the track 'Walls'.

Rival Consoles: "W​alls is, for me, the most unique track on the album, It’s inspired by seeing Colin Stetson live. I wanted to created huge walls of tone, hence the title, but be very playful with them in terms of structure (not just put a house/techno beat under them). I really like the fact that it has moments of different genres but always feels genuine and natural. I think this piece is also born out of the inner guitarist in me, there’s a kind of slow metal feel about it."

Do you write things down a lot – like notes and lists to yourself?
Rival Consoles: "I never used to, but as I've gotten older I have to!, So now I make the effort to document the good ideas and let the less obvious ones flicker in my mind at the cost of being lost. I actually would recommend writing ideas down to anyone though, because you learn a lot about ideas from this."

Tell us more about the album 'Howl'. If it was a person who would it be / what character traits would it possess? 
Rival Consoles: "Howl is very much a nigh time person, maybe someone who is blue but not fully pessimistic. I think in my music I try to include a wide range of emotions from fragile, sad, angry, hopeful etc but without drawing to much attention to them."

Finally…rock, paper, scissors or stone?
Rival Consoles: "Scissors. Despite my paper recording, I think I always try scissors first. Don't ask me why!"

'Howl' is set for release vi Erased Tapes on October 16th along with a tour of UK, North America and Europe this winter.