Rival Consoles


Liam Murphy

June 28, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Modern issues are explored with visceral production that balances flow with the exploration of austere truths

The consent to store and utilise our personal data is so often co-opted by lengthy privacy terms that stand between us and the website or application that we have already convinced ourselves we need. Deep underneath these voluntary surface activities, a torrent of meta-information flows, detailing the secrets of our habits and behaviour.

Rival ConsolesOverflow brings this invisible war into a physical space. Made as the soundtrack to a ballet performance, it was tasked with exploring being human “in the shadow of big data”. The behemoth opener Monster certainly does this, a pulsating bass synth emerging like some intangible creature in front of an unsuspecting populace. There is a sublime scale to the track that ferments over its runtime.

The opener is effective, but the artist is not afraid of exploring other pathways into the unwieldy topic of big data. The track I Like finds a juddered vocal collage conveying the sombre truth that even colloquial exchanges carry vital information about who we are. A melody blurs under the voices, a humanistic haze of soulfulness following each word.

A varied range of rhythms and textures permeate Overflow. Fractured voices haunt the titular track. At one point things become very disorientating as a razor-sharp chorus of voices vibrate with an intensity that threatens to destabilise the whole track. Rival Consoles sends a bolt of drums and synth through its centre like an electromagnetic pulse. The Cloud Oracle’s tinny voices talk about security systems. One boasts how their cloud system ‘not only surrounds the perimeter’ but also ‘surrounds and isolates the Oracle itself’. The nature of the language used is frighteningly similar to militaristic strategising, and Rival Consoles perfectly showcases that. 

The unique soundscape created is not merely through vague artistic interpretation. On Scanning a gritty buzzing emerges. It is electromagnetic recordings captured from the innards of an iPhone as someone flicks through their social media. Though the track develops, those initial haptic bleeps are haunting and explore the notion that everything we do in cyberspace leaves a trace of itself behind; a small beacon that transmits an unfathomable amount of information. 

Everyday we are absorbed into an eternally growing leviathan of information and data that is used against us by big business and surveils us for a merciless kleptocracy. Rival Consoles explores this subject with ineffable poise and skill. In imagining cyberspace as an expanse of unlimited textures and fluid tones, the artist successfully draws all that invisible magnitude out into a sonic soundscape. Its inventiveness invites interpretative physicality, and also allows for an unforgettable listening experience.