Last year long-standing Erased Tapes artist Rival Consoles released the Odyssey EP, his sixth outing with the London-based avant-garde label. We noted its “warm, sumptuous chords” and praised its consistent diversity. In the 12 months since Odyssey, he’s been busy travelling and performing, taking on a US tour and supporting Luke Abbot across the UK in conjunction with the latter’s Wysing Forest release. Sonne, therefore, comes as a weighty surprise, a full body of work after months of silence.
“Sonne” kicks into life with an exuberantly high-pitched synth riff in flighty 3/4, urgent triplets giving the piece pace and nervous tension. A minute and a half in and the track takes on a new life, as rich electronic chords evoke notions of a sort of modern baroque style – a thick swathe of synthetic organ sound coming off like a neo harpsichord. A sheen of open cutoff closes the piece like the blinding light of suddenly opened curtains on a summer’s morning. “3 Chords” is a misnomer, as Rival Consoles does in fact use more than the titular number; that said, the second is only introduced more than two minutes in. Picking different points up and down the line, he builds a steady, growing beat around a single pattern of notes. Bass notes throb while higher pitches glisten and swell. An interesting attempt at minimalism, it succeeds emotionally if not literally. “Helios” is an even greater success – coming off like a slower, more jubilant version of James Holden’s “10101”, it clicks and shakes with rumbling fizz before exploding into an overwhelming barrage of pomp and celebration, rattling drums and a wall of fuzz instilling the feeling of a raucous party atmosphere. “Haunt” is more delicate, then, its warped and elongated synths hinting at deeper yearning, perhaps a telling emotion after such heady delights.
Things head towards a frantic climax with “Think Tank”, which is almost straightforwardly club worthy with its dead-on 4/4 approach. A Boards of Canada-esque wobbling synth line just keeps its heartbreaking mood, while chirruping effects feel like far-off birdsong. “Recovery” closes the release with stacatto synths rolling back and forth, pushing towards a frenetic tempo in unpredictable fashion. While the sonics of Sonne might not be all that different to those of Odyssey, the ideas and emotion that shape each track here demonstrate a clear step forward for Rival Consoles. Developing his sound without straying from his established identity, he’s managed to bring together the head and heart in perfect balance.
Rival Consoles – Sonne is out now on Erased Tapes. Buy here.