Rival Consoles Review: ‘ambitious work’

Rival Consoles. PHOTO: Patrick Widdess.

Rival Consoles. PHOTO: Patrick Widdess. - Credit: Archant

Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles brought his mesmerising audio visual show to the Arts Centre in support of his latest album Persona.

West's set was the epic final chapter of a diverse night of electronic music laid on by Hark. The Cosmic Pint DJs kept the weird and wonderful electronica flowing in the main bar between three live acts on stage. Jonathan Krisp opened up with a plethora of sounds from the whole spectrum of electronic genres from heavy industrial techno to upbeat house. It was a chaotic mix at times from a seasoned performer who has toured internationally supporting Amy Winehouse and Arcade Fire as a member of Patrick Wolf's band.

Next up were local duo Sunda Arc who combined electronic music with live keyboards and saxophone in expansive soundscapes as a dizzying array of visuals filled the screen at the back of the stage. The rich sounds and nuanced compositions were clearly a hit with the crowd and a hard act for the headliner to follow.

The fourth Rival Consoles album is an ambitious work which aims to be an in-depth sonic exploration of the persona. It was inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film of the same name. West has said: 'I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.'

He looked intent as he took to the stage dressed in black and built up an ambient intro before dropping the album's opening track Unfolding. From a single snare drum beat the track expands into a finely orchestrated multilayered composition which blended into a succession of other pieces. Shapes formed, swirled and disintegrated like a kaleidoscope on the screen. The music too continually evolved and shifted rising to earth shattering crescendos and melting into dreamy interludes.

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West had complete command, working a barrage of controllers and adding live embellishments on keyboards to keep the crowd captivated. He has taken the experimentation out of the studio and onto the stage playing with the tracks twisting, rearranging and building on them.

It is not easy for a single musician to hold a crowd and there were one or two moments when it seemed he might be waning, but he always sensed when a change of pace was needed or a pause before launching into something new. After an almost unbroken set containing his newest material he closed with a pulsating rendition of Odyssey in a welcome encore.

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Excitingly, this is still quite a modest live setup compared to electronic heavy weights like Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin. Like his tracks this could be the simple refrain which is about to expand into something even more glorious and mind blowing.

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