Track: Rival Consoles – ‘I Like’: generative, alienated and conversational, an off-kilter marriage of speech and silicon

Rival Consoles' Ryan Lee West, photographed by Özge Cöne

RIVAL CONSOLES are on the home straight towards the release of a new dance-collaborative album, Overflow, in the first days of December, and as you’d expect it’s pristine and beautiful while also springing from the well of the leftfield. He’s truly great, one of my top three electronica artists of the moment, along with HAAi, Llyr, Max Cooper – esteemed company.

Today he’s dropped another single, a really very vocally experimental and generative track, “I Like”, which you can hear below.

It and the album it’s borne from come from a collaborative soundscape for choreographer Alexander Whitley’s contemporary dance production Overflow: a piece, we’re told, which explores the human and emotional consequences of our lives lived today, surrounded by (drowning in?) data; and the colliding, ever more intrusive agents of social media, advertising, marketing and politics, and the unholy marriages of convenience being conducted between them.

Overflow was premiered by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company at London’s Sadler’s Wells in May 2021, with a European itinerary to follow from next spring; whereas Rival Console will also be on musical migration, with a European and American tour also due to begin next year.

As for that latest single; it features the mapping of data from dancer Tia Hockey’s personal monologue, which controls the volume of the chords based on the activity of her voice – drawing attention to things happening behind the curtain, invisible systems, algorithms. Kind of waay beyond my technological ken, but supremely off-kilter – it has something of that vocal alienation you found on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. II.

Ryan Lee West, the man behind the Rival Consoles curtain, says:With this piece, the dancers were recording lots of personal monologues about how they felt when using social media. Alex, the choreographer, suggested exploring the words ‘I like’ as it’s so abundant a term and action online.

“With a simple momentary recording of this I began crafting a piece, in which melancholic chords would gently be triggered by Tia’s voice, as well as manipulating the words ‘I like … and they were like …’ with a very chaotic system. I wanted to create a mood that was a weird combination of contentedness, sadness and strangeness.” He sure as hell succeeded.

Rival Consoles’ Overflow will be released by Erased Tapes digitally, on limited edition vinyl and on CD on December 3rd; you can pre-order yours here.

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