The swell is important to Ryan Lee, aka Rival Consoles. “I realised that hardly anyone has done that in electronic music,” he says. While that may not necessarily be true – Throwing Snow, Stellar OM Source and Jon Hopkins have all used it to great effect in recent times – he’s certainly on course to making it his own. ‘Philip‘, the standout track from Odyssey, his latest release for Erased Tapes, ebbs and flows with the power of truly great emotion. The opening moments see the delicate push-pull of rubato quavers, crescendo and dimmenuendo, crescendo and dimmenuendo. This swell carries on throughout the track, even as harsh plucks and feather-light percussion floats around this main theme. Three minutes into the track a sudden stop and a sharp intake of breath seem to indicate closure, instead leading into another minute of more frantic push and pull. On an entirely different tip, ‘Voyager’ takes a bright, almost tropical melody and pitches it against squelching effects and, again, swelling, sliding synths. It’s even clear from the eponymous opening number that warm, sumptuous chords are Lee’s stock-in-trade. An ever-rising phrase that begs for resolution sings over a plodding, one-note bassline, while crisp percussion holds it all together masterfully. It’s dancefloor ready, but exudes a lustre that sets it outside the realm of simple club fodder.
‘Rebecca’ is a buzzy, playful number, switching between virtuosic melodies and obtuse layering at will. A short vignette, it displays a touch of frivolity compared with the angst-ridden ‘Philip’. ‘Soul’, featuring Erased Tapes label-mate Peter Broderick, is a reworking of the vocalist’s ‘Proposed Solution To The Mystery Of The Soul’, featured on last year’s These Walls of Mine. A funky, stomping number, it takes Broderick’s brooding vocal and injects it with power and pace, closing the release with an even more, dare we say it, soulful palette than one might have thought possible. All told Odyssey is a successfully diverse collection of tracks, with enough consistency of sound to negate any sense of waywardness, as well as fitting in perfectly alongside the more classically minded releases on Erased Tapes.
Stream: Rival Consoles – Voyager (Erased Tapes) (via XLR8R)