Rival Consoles Shares the Personal Stories and Sketches Behind His New Erased Tapes Record ‘Articulation’

As loosely inspired by a graphic score from Györgi Ligeti

Rather than dive straight into the production side of his new Rival Consoles record Articulation (now available on Erased Tapes), Ryan Lee West sketched what he thought the songs might look like. (The album is actually named after the graphic score of a Györgi Ligeti piece.)

"I find electronic music is often battling to say something with integrity," he explains, "because technology and production can easily get in the way. I think the goal of a lot of electronic composers is to find a balance between the vision of the idea and the power of possibilities on the computer. With a pen and paper sketch you can compose and rethink ideas without technology getting in the way, so for me it acts as a very helpful tool to refresh the process."

To put his entire LP in perspective, we asked West to share all of his Articulation drawings alongside the personal stories behind each of its mesmerizing songs.... 
One of the earliest pieces I made for the record. The title is a direct reference to the behaviour of the main synth; I was trying to mimic playing a guitar string both softly and aggressively. I think part of me is often trying to mimic the physical world with synths. There is something mindful about observing things and making sense of them, and once you try to recreate something in a different medium it feels like there are new opportunities to explore.
For me, this title reflects the human obsession with progress — with newness — regardless of the consequences. With this piece, I wanted the melody to be disguised in the rhythm, so that it’s only just visible; I think there is something powerful in exploring that. The song has a kind of brutalism structure. I spent a long time drawing up ways I could make a structure that was repetitive but also had lots of changes.
I used this title because even though it appears to be ambient and without much melody, there are actually huge amounts of very tiny melodic fragments moving around the background, which were all performed live as tiny improvisations. I like the idea that music can be really melodic, but almost hidden; melody in the background is something that interests me because it is always at the front of music. But why? This piece also plays an important role in allowing the record to breathe, as the pieces that surround it are much denser.
The title track is about articulation, and playfulness with shape and time. Its structure is very machine-like, but I was really interested in how melody and sense of story could develop out of this, and it became an exploration of mathematical structures — patterns and shapes having a conversation. I love that something on paper can appear rigid and calculated, but then take on new meaning based on the context that surrounds it, or how it changes over time.
This piece is about nostalgia. Music seems to trigger nostalgia for me a lot. I'm not sure how, but certain combinations of notes and tone evoke that for me. I am interested in contrasting ideas, so the sound of this piece is very soft and sometimes fragile, yet the rhythm of it is very machine-like and computerized (stable). I think there is also a sense of hope in the main theme — not a huge amount, but a hint.
This is a song I created late at night. I wanted to make something full of momentum and mood.

The bird song that appears at the beginning of the piece was actually a very late idea in the creating process. My studio is surrounded by a lot of trees and there is always bird song, which I love but normally don’t consider wanting to use in my music. However one day when I was working on the piece, I kept noticing that the birds were singing perfectly in tune with the song. So much so that it sounded like one of the little melodies that appears at the end of the song. I quickly recorded it on my phone and it just felt right in the music. I think it grounds the song and also plays with the idea that at the beginning of the piece is bird song, and at the end of the piece is a kind of electronic bird song.

The end is something I have been longing to make for a long time, which is the closest I have gotten to synths coming in and out of picture like choreography, the synths are having a conversation, and it’s very fluid. The mood of the piece to me is a kind of bittersweet blend of hope and nostalgia.