Rival Consoles' album Persona, inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film of the same name, aims to explore the difference between personal perceptions of the self and how one is viewed by others. Significantly less danceable than some of the artist's other albums, the album simultaneously feels more introverted and more expansive. Ryan Lee West's tracks blend acoustic and electronic instrumentation as well as a plethora of effects, with crisp snare drums galloping alongside wavy synth chords which vividly ebb and flow, and melodies which sound live rather than programmed. West particularly loves to start a song quietly and build up from there, maintaining a sense of progression and suspense. The album loads most of its beat-heavy tracks up front, starting with "Unfolding," which features straightforward 4/4 beats and plucked strings near the beginning, eventually building up to more frequently paced beats and intricate melodies. "Persona" has jazzy brushed drums and haunting fuzz-soaked synths which continually bloom and contract. Highlight "Phantom Grip" is a bit more aggressive, with a circular beat which seems to shovel into the ground, and a thick, growling bass tone. The drums are slower and more dramatically paced on numbers like the woozy "I Think So," which is countered by a fast, glitchy melody. Other tracks leave drums out, such as the flickering "Be Kind" and "Fragment," or "Untravel," which seems like an epic trance breakdown extended to six minutes. "Hidden," appropriately saved for the penultimate track, begins with eerie melodies which sound as if they're being played from old, decaying cassettes, and from there the track launches into the fastest, most energetic beats on the album, eventually cooling down with soft, pacifying pianos. The album edges Rival Consoles a little bit closer to some of West's Erased Tapes labelmates, but he hasn't gone fully neo-classical yet. Instead, Persona is another exquisite album of immaculately produced techno which strikingly examines abstract emotions.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson