Review Summary: Its lightness of touch, deft drum programming, gentle bass and exquisite vocals make it perfect for time-lapse footage of changing weather, or for when you're still buzzed after last nights party.
Phaeleh (pronounced “fella”), is a classically trained dubstep producer from Bristol, and on Within the Emptiness, you can certainly tell both – that he hails from Bristol, and his classical influences as well. His songs include little instrumental curlicues and sumptuous washed-away synths while the beats are slow and steady, akin to fellow Bristolians Massive Attack and Portishead.
Rather than focus on denture-rattling seismic bass drops, Phaeleh focuses on texture, melody and space in order to create a record that oozes quality. However, this may not be a good thing necessarily, as if you prefer “rough” dubstep, chances are you won’t appreciate Within the Emptiness, where there is little “filth” or “grime”. On this record Phaeleh carefully handles each of his songs running times, by letting them grow into themselves, making each of his songs revolve around a recurring piano riff, over which he layers 2 step garage beats, atmospheric and analogue instruments, as well as melodies and haunting overtones.
Two minutes into the first track, it becomes clear that the rhythm should be measured in Herz rather than BPM, when a sweeping flute is added to a ‘deja-vu’ like piano riff over a beat lacking any regular kick-drum pattern. In ‘If’, an after-party favorite for my friends and I, the R&B vocals find an easy groove while a piano riff heavily laden in reverb drones in and out in an ambient manner. Halfway through the album comes “Numb”, which is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Herein Tool’s “Stinkfist” is sampled and to accompany the lonely, desensitized lyrics, there is an ever-changing and constantly evolving beat, which is encapsulated by a subtle, progressive guitar riff towards the end of the song, creating a contrast between the theme and sonics. The album closes on “Healing”, which while consisting of some good vocals, does get a bit repetitive, and is an unworthy conclusion to an otherwise good album.
However, while listening to the Within the Emptiness you can’t help but feel that the tracks are indistinguishable from each other, and that each track (maybe with the exception of “Numb”), lacks that elusive killer bass-line or riff, which can just give each track a memorable identity and bring the whole album up a level. In addition, each element of a song is brought into view and then brought out again, which may help the overall flow of the album a little, but on a couple of the tracks such as “Numb” or the “Healing”, which are over 7 minutes long you can feel that the track begins to drag. In conclusion, while definitely a worth-while and enjoyable listen, you can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment at how tantalizingly close this album is at achieving greatness, taking into account just how one little addition or a memorable melody to each song could have made this album great, as well as a more direct approach.