You don't necessarily have to know the inspiration behind Ryan Lee West's, known as Rival Consoles, latest album to fully appreciate its emotional range, but doing so not only makes for an interesting backstory, it also provides some necessary insight. If you're at all familiar with his work, you know West makes the kind of avant-garde electronic music that is exploratory in nature and has increasingly aimed for forging the kind of personal connection often reserved for lyric driven music.

At its best, it can be a complex, challenging, and thrilling experience and Persona is no exception from start to finish. It takes its name from the classic arthouse film, a 1966 psychological thriller by the legendary Ingmar Bergman, in which two characters gradually lose track of their independent identities.

It's a fitting source considering West has always thrived on exploring highbrow ideas in the context of his music. Some of the most compelling elements of his music was the warmth and humanity found on 2016's excellent Night Melody, and here, he explores them with greater depth, from the rippling and graceful ambience of 'Be Kind' to the warm and dizzying mid-tempo techno of 'Unfolding.' But it's on 'Untravel' where the music resonates in ways only hinted at in the past.

Layers of synths gleam and emit what sounds like distant alien transmissions, gradually coaxing almost overwhelming levels of euphoria to the surface, creating the kind of urgency when you feel overwhelmed by the sudden memory of someone who has long since passed through your life. Here there are no traces of sadness or despair but rather a kind of comfort in simply being lost in a pleasant memory.

Elsewhere he wanders into the darker corners of the human psyche: On the title-track a shuffling house beat steadily drives stabs of horror-movie synths and clattering percussion that together build a gradual feeling of suspense and paranoia, and the appropriately titled 'Phantom Grip,' those same feelings of paranoia are given an especially menacing tone with its cavernous beat and bass so thick and distorted it threatens to consume everything around it.

In choosing to explore themes of identity, perception, and persona, and how we can easily lose track of them, fabricate them, or have them completely ripped away from us, West also touches on the kind of complex and often overwhelming emotions that come from those struggles, and in the process, he's created an album that stands as one of his most evocative and ambitious so far.