When I lived in Bristol I would often walk past a building akin to a garage that carried a small sign indicating it contained ‘The Institute of Grinding Technology’. Approximately every thirty seconds, without fail, the building would emit an ungodly hissing grating sound. Lord knows what went on therein. I could probably find out, but I don’t want to. That sound, that weird mechanic emanation, was and remains a source of fascination.
I give you this as a contrived introduction to Emptyset’s latest offering. Hence, if ‘The Institute of Grinding Technology’ are looking for some background music to their next staff party they would find much comfort in Recur.
Throughout Recur Emptyset seemingly act as conductors of a murmuration of mechanical locusts. Armed with serrated wings and antenna, these nine tunes swoop, contract and change shape. The most jagged of noises continually pierce and shred all that is comfort and fluff, leaving only sharp edges and abrasive surfaces behind. It’s relentlessly and incredibly intense like Demiurge, but all the more brilliant for it.
Recur is an album that composes emotions that others steer well clear of. This is why you should buy it.
‘Recur’ (Raagthma re-edit):
Emptyset are Paul Purgas and James Ginzburg. The latter is the founder of Bristol based label collective Multiverse whose excellent Dark Matter compilation – reviewed here – brought together a series of post-dubstep/future bass ventures. Here Ginzburg seems to be attempting to neuter and enfeeble the current move to make dubstep chart friendly through an antidote of extremes. Paul Purgas, from what I can garner, was once director of the Arnolfini in Bristol, a sound artist of some repute and apparently an expert in Dr Dee. So listen up Mr. Albarn – although I think I’ve said enough on *that* issue by now.
Consequently, this is not for the fainthearted or those in search of anything remotely resembling songs or melodies or tunes. Instead Emptyset’s Demiurge is all about the boundaries of what you can do with bass. First track ‘Departure’ consists of a build of static that is released by a colossal bass note that is as forbidding as it is huge and skull shaking. ‘Void’ and ‘Plane’ use more unforgiving interference as rhythm and the hammer drill of ‘Function’ reveals the pair tweaking the absolute hell out of whatever it is they are using. Throughout, the now infamous wobble of dubstep is taken to an intimidating dimension so far beyond the dance floor it hardly seems worth mentioning it. In fact, using the descriptor dubstep here is something of a misnomer considering the experimentalism on show.
Demiurge is equally cerebral and visceral, demanding and brilliant. It’s abstract and in no way an easy listen. But you like a challenge don’t you? Purchase.