- Night Melody sounds less like a batch of new musical ideas from London artist Ryan West than a direct continuation of last year's Howl, his third album for Erased Tapes. As such, the detailed, emotive electronica of artists like Jon Hopkins and Clark still looms over this six-track mini-album, and the mood of each piece sticks to a narrow range between quietly brooding and vaguely anthemic. But it's not only business as usual for Rival Consoles. In small pockets and slight gestures, distinctive traits emerge from West's symphonic electronics.
The final quarter of "Johannesburg" opens the curtain on a sweeping, stratospheric perspective. This is one of West's favorite moves, keeping a surge of melody and upward movement at bay until the end, all in the name of tension. By now the effect is diluted, but there's an added dimension here. Whether from the groaning bass synth that resonates underneath or the tapestry of counterrhythms, the end of "Johannesburg" has something of an edge. Granted, the section could have easily included a church choir and a life-affirming guitar (or sax) solo, but behind the drama it's not hard to hear a careful composer at work. The opening half of "Slow Song" grabs that baton and throws it into an anti-gravity chamber, where West's tactile synth patches and airy sound design finally sound at peace, uninterested in the endless peaks the other tracks are made to climb. For that simple change of approach, it could be the best Rival Consoles song in recent memory.
"Night Melody," much like the title track of Howl, sounds like this record's brooding and beating heart, with a similar shuffling beat. So, yeah, nothing new there—at least until the final minute, when West drops the dramatic synth sequence and gives his clubby 4/4 some room to breathe. Suddenly the track takes on a fresh rhythmic angle, with bubbles of sparse melody popping around a simple groove. Despite the moment feeling accidental, it once again showcases the latent potential in Rival Consoles' modus operandi. Look to the understated stunner "Slow Song," the jittery opening of "Lone," or even the impressive sprawl of "What Sorrow," and see an artist discovering his own language.
01. Pattern Of The North
03. Slow Song
05. Night Melody
06. What Sorrow