Howl is an album named after the moaning synthesizer on its title track, and as Rival Consoles, a.k.a. Ryan Lee West, puts it himself: "It's very sort of emotive really, with lots of sadness in it, and I just thought it was a simple way of expressing the mood of the album, too."
Indeed, Howl's mood is by far its most striking characteristic. Every note, beat and chord progression is chosen carefully and played with purpose in order to draw genuine feeling out of these cold electronics. The result is a vast, thoughtful record that leaves a deep impression in its wake. Yet, it's not just the affecting tone that carries the album. Howl has a certain depth to it that you would normally only hear with a full band. At times, you're almost expecting Thom Yorke's vocals to kick in, before you remember that this is just one guy in his room. Both "Ghosting" and "Low" are particularly reminiscent of Radiohead, while the angelic synth shimmers of closer "Looming" seem to be extracting the sins right out of your chest.
Howl is a well-crafted structure, built on the foundation laid by its predecessors. It's certainly the pinnacle of West's career so far, and up there for electronic album highlight of year. (Erased Tapes)