London-based electronic songwriter Ryan Lee West’s most personal work to date comes in the form of a mini-album titled Night Melody.
During the release of his acclaimed full-length album Howl and heavy touring in late 2015, Ryan came out of a 13-year long relationship and found himself making music throughout the winter months. The result of his efforts is a 34-minute, 6-track mini album Night Melody, born out of and shaped by long hours working into the night. It’s nocturnal in sound; mysterious in the way that the early hours so often are.
“I found myself, in a silent home, with the days getting dark very early. I’ve never before in my life been affected by the lack of light so much. I just remember it always being night time. I would either make music into the night, go out drinking with friends, or go to parties and dance into the early hours, every day, week after week, month after month, until eventually the days became brighter again.”
The opening statement Pattern Of The North starts off with a collage of spliced synth melodies, inspired by anxiety that accompanies going home for Christmas. It’s followed by Johannesburg, an early sketch gradually filled out during his tour in South Africa.
“After playing it around some of the cities, I got a lot of inspiration to bring it to life and push it into something that really moves me. I think this is one of my most colourful pieces of music, with its driving rhythm and almost a homage to Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ towards the end, with a build of very simple, hypnotic parts. I especially love that for over five minutes the piece is tied to just one note. This makes the ending very dramatic, because all of a sudden there is this harmonic change.”
The closing statement What Sorrow is a fitting end to the album, building from gentle melancholia to a joyous crescendo. It’s a sensibility that’s central to the record; joy and sorrow both find their counterpoints.
“This record is very personal to me and I hope it offers something for other people, as it helped me to make it and to listen to it. Almost every synth line was recorded intuitively, without perfection but with a lot of intention and expression. I’m not interested in making something sad or making something happy. I want music to be bittersweet, to be more complex, like life – containing moments of vibrant colour and hope, as much as darkness and sadness.”
The irregular organic shape that forms the die-cut cover was created by London-based artist and graphic designer Shaz Madani, mostly known for her minimalist and forward-thinking editorial direction of Riposte Magazine.