Love Letter To A Record: Rival Consoles On Radiohead’s ‘Ok Computer’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Rival Consoles – Radiohead’s Ok Computer

A friend of my family who was a bit older than me gave me Ok Computer on cassette tape around the time of its release. I was 12, I think. I had already heard and loved singles ‘Karma Police’ and ‘No Surprises’ but when I listened to the whole record I was instantly obsessed.

I couldn’t get over how many ideas it contained. During this time I had started learning the guitar and had quickly became good enough to attempt (with or without grace!) to play anything that excited me. I listened to the tape all the time and was always trying to play along. I was so excited by the chord progressions, the structures of ‘Paranoid Android’, the shifts in mood and energy within a single song let alone across the whole record! It was very magical to me and I just was as I have said. Obsessed.

I loved the incredibly dark and strange tones in ‘Climbing Up The Walls’. I can still remember listening to this in the kitchen in my first home late at night, and playing along on acoustic guitar.

So many ideas and approaches have been absorbed into my way of working even to this day! The chromatic tremolo playing by Jonny Greenwood on ‘Airbag’ definitely influenced me. I tend to do a similar thing with synths for melodies, especially his use of chromatic notes and dynamics.

Other key moments include:

– That absolutely swag fill and fuzz bass in ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’. That is just amazing, especially with that slow beat on the ride cymbal. It was just so cool to me, how they took basic ideas and refreshed them with such power and confidence.

– The ridiculous choir and descending chord progression in ‘Paranoid Android’’s middle section (which I loved to play).

– The slowly degraded end to ‘Karma Police’ which to this day sounds incredible!

– The interlocking clean guitars on ‘Let Down’ which create a haunting yet passive tapestry of tone and colour!

There is some production magic throughout this record, which at the time I don’t think I would have fully noticed. For example, what the hell is going on with the filtering on the drums in ‘Airbag’! Who does that?! Amazing!!!

With this music, I first became aware of emotion in art. As in really feeling it rather than being aware that is emotional. I really wanted to be in a band like that for many years. This music was a huge inspiration for me to explore music and seeing what can be gotten out of digging deep into structure, sound and mood, and I will always love it.


Rival Consoles (aka Ryan Lee West) will kick off his debut Australian headline tour this November in celebration of his latest album, ‘Persona’. Dates and details below.

Rival Consoles 2018 Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, 14th November
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Tickets: Moshtix

Friday, 16th November
Strawberry Fields Festival, Tocumwal
Tickets: Strawberry Fields

Saturday, 17th November
MOD, Adelaide
Tickets: Moshtix

Sunday, 18th November
ACMI, Melbourne
Tickets: Ticketek

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