Rival Consoles – Persona
Persona is experimental and diverse in its sonic scope, but each unique sound is in service of its greater whole, making for a record that is undeniably the vision of a singular artist
Trying to make wordless, electronic music non-robotic and personal can be tricky for even the most seasoned musicians, but it's a challenge that Rival Consoles' Ryan Lee West takes up with gusto and earnestness. Persona is a gloriously potent success story, and a testament to his talent that he's managed to make one of the warmest and most reflective albums of the year so far, electronic or otherwise.
The first two songs, Unfolding and the title track, set the bar high with early highlights on an album full of them. Unfolding begins with shuddering, industrial percussion that's joined by a strident beat, before soft keys eventually arrive in a gorgeously human convergence. Persona, however, is a grinding behemoth, as stretched and warped horns move in and out of focus across a stately and defiant beat, like scenery viewed from the window of a train, providing an atmosphere that is simultaneously unsettling and comforting.
Elsewhere, there are moments of transcendant ambience (Dreamer's Wake, Untravel); fleeting, improvisational fragments (Be Kind); and a masterclass in how to make a satisfying build (Hidden, written after seeing Slowdive, understandably). The big, thundering tracks like Phantom Grip fit perfectly next to more subtle explorations of sonic texture like Rest, with everything beautifully woven together through a confident yet gentle precision.
Taking cues from the classic Ingmar Bergman film of the same name, Persona creates a space that is both introspective and inviting, an ambitious attempt to add to the canon of artistic endeavour that seeks to mine the personal and experiential to illuminate a more universal truth. This music is experimental and diverse in its sonic scope, but each unique sound is in service of its greater whole, making for a record that is undeniably the vision of a singular artist, a true auteur.
Listen to: Persona, I Think So, Hidden