Back in 2011, Rival Consoles’ second album, ‘Kid Velo’ hit like a giddy mixtape straight from the mid-noughties. Channelling Daft Punk’s (da) funk, Digitalism’s boundless energy, and Justice’s penchant for brash amplification, its festival-friendly electro and sizzling, circuit-blowing intent continues to feel like a happy accident set next to Ryan West’s recent, more reticent work. Where his ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs set a fresh standard of subtle, slow-building heft, ‘Howl’ is their long-played culmination – a milestone of minimal atmospherics and pulsing, contemplative beats.

Opener ‘Howl’ goes deep, shuffling with muddied bass and melody that suddenly tumble from the depths before ‘Ghosting’ slows the pace to a complex crawl of snaking, oscillating tension that breaks with goosebump deftness. ‘Low’ is similarly, exquisitely measured, striking a balance between the snap of busy snare and swirling, plaintive melody.

Textural and tempered, it’s a third album that has more in common with Jon Hopkins and James Holden’s droning electronica but there’s still plenty in play for ‘Howl’ to stand in the exalted ambient company of Erased Tapes labelmates like Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds.

So where ‘Afterglow’ spits and twitches across a restless, stop-start few minutes, ‘Morning Vox’ inverted rave groove feels like a twilight triumph – a gloriously subdued 3am bedroom set-ender you turn up even though everyone else has gone to bed. ‘Howl’ deserves nothing less than total immersion.


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