Emptyset
Material


4.0
excellent

Review

by MisterTornado CONTRIBUTOR (47 Reviews)
February 27th, 2013 | 33 replies


Release Date: 03/18/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Is it techno?

There is a new breed of electronic production where light refuses to shine. This is a dark and brooding new legion of electronic producers, experimenting with elements of industrial, noise, drone, and dark ambient with the ghostly, hardwired frame of techno. Examples are everywhere. After over a decade of harsh noise walls and ventolin drones, Dominick Fernow’s Prurient is beginning to incorporate a sense of tectonic rhythm into his sweltering compositions, stimulated by the politically charged industrial 4/4 of his recent Vatican Shadow project. For years Ren Schofield has been tinkering with various noise projects (God Willing, Gang Wizard), until being picked up by experimental label Spectrum Spools under the alias Container, where Schofield can be found stripping minimal techno down to new levels piercing intensity; mastering utterly cold and bleak techno-scapes. Further down the line is the illustrious Andy Stott, who delivers a thumbing, noise and drone injected club-parody to the masses.

Though nobody is taking this new dark extreme of techno further than Emptyset. Slowly escalating from glitchy, atmospheric techno on early EPs, to a slightly noisier self-titled debut, to a heavily experimental and unforgiving second LP, and finally to completely stripped drone and noise (that barely passes for techno) on subsequent EPs. Emptyset’s maddening evolutionary descent is completely ideal for his new sound, like a serial killer’s inevitable plunge into madness, or the shadowy evil alter-ego of a comic book hero, who are almost always the most interesting characters, whether we’d like to admit it or not. The Bristol duo’s latest EP seems to act as the sequel to their previous EP Medium; a grim and remorseless extension of Emptyset’s downfall into insanity. They take great lengths to insure this collapse is documented in a unique way throughout Material, which consists of three site-specific installation pieces recorded in various locations throughout the UK, giving each track a unique sense of sorrow and deconstruction.

The opening piece, “Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station - Snowdonia, Wales 17.12.12”, was (literally) recorded inside a decommissioned nuclear power station in Snowdania, Wales. The piece opens with an ominous industrial haze, exposing thick over-polluted drones colliding off the power station’s metallic walls like metal on metal. Halfway through, ferocious slams of bass shake the vast space of the station, guided by low tones of ethereal sadness. Guided by waves of fuzzy electronic distortion, Material’s second installation piece, “Ambika P3 - London, England 12.12.12”, was recorded inside an empty concrete testing bunker below the streets of central London. Washes of rusty metallic poles and throbbing noise-drenched bellows fill the vast, concrete space like a dreary industrial hell. Steamy air evaporates the obscure, swollen machine cries to a smooth transition with Material’s final installation piece, “Chislehurst Mine - Kent, England 02.11.12”. Recorded in a 22 mile medieval-age mine tunneled into the earth beneath Kent, England, short bursts of whirling metallic decay fill the century old mine in brutal waves of gaseous pollution. Each of these guttural stabs slowly disintegrates into the cloudy atmosphere above, disappearing into the air like the ghostly, mournful sirens of a lost civilization.

Maybe this darker and noisier extreme of techno is meant to be a parody of traditional dance and club music. Or maybe it’s meant to question rhythm and melody in general. Whatever it maybe, in Emptyset’s case it’s something different. These twisted thrusts, mangled slices, and distorted wounds heard throughout Material give the EP a loose, hangnail impression rhythm and melody. Most importantly, the aggressive noise, buried sine wives, deceased drones, and apocalyptic reverb that floats off the end of these sinister sounds analyze the relationship between sound and space. There is nothing affecting these sounds but the organic and natural sound of their surroundings; be it a nuclear power station, concrete testing bunker, or a vast mine. This is sound art that transcends programs and traditional recording, providing a sonic narrative of sound vs. architecture. Emptyset seem to be in the same mindset as great experimentalists such as John Cage, Antoine Beuger, and Taku Sugimoto, focusing on exploration of the physical traits of sound with heavy emphasis on location and environment. While it certainly isn’t modern classical per se, Material is bold and innovate in its own way, exploring the vast circumference sound in a way few in techno have before.



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user ratings (9)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic EP, without a doubt some of the darkest electronic music that'll be released in 2013 (that is of course, until we get an Emptyset LP).

Sample it / buy it here: http://www.beatport.com/release/material/1035464

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's alot more stripped than Demiurge, but I bet you'll dig it

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i have faith in you. long live depression

Adash
February 27th 2013


1356 Comments


Fuckin' yes mate, beautiful review. Emptyset totally demolished at Unsound, glad to see they're getting some exposure

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2013


3471 Comments


This looks incredible, I'll be sure to check it out

FelixCulpa
February 27th 2013


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Tornado. And now we finally have someone who can challenge Davey in most album in the "recommended by reviewer" section!

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Emptyset totally demolished at Unsound, glad to see they're getting some exposure"

Can't even imagine what that set sounded like, please go on!

"And now we finally have someone who can challenge Davey in most album in the "recommended by reviewer" section!"

lol

Adash
February 27th 2013


1356 Comments


If you insist

Fushitsusha closed the first night, and absolutely everything that followed paled in comparison simply because it was one of the most stunningly terrifying and enthralling sets I've ever experienced.

Emptyset came as close as an electronic artist could to equalling that.


omnipanzer
February 28th 2013


21626 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Not digging the music but that is a well developed website.

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2013


6499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah this sounds like something I desperately need. Nice writeup man, good to have you as a contrib!

Digging: Recondite - Iffy

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Fushitsusha closed the first night, and absolutely everything that followed paled in comparison simply because it was one of the most stunningly terrifying and enthralling sets I've ever experienced.

Emptyset came as close as an electronic artist could to equalling that."

Oh wow, I can only imagine they absolutely destroyed it. Well that's good. Where they up there with laptops, synths, samplers, or what? Interested to know how their making these sounds.

@Omnipanzer, this won't be for everybody, but give it some time to sink in and you (might) enjoy it ;)

@Clercqie, I think you'd dig this

Adash
March 3rd 2013


1356 Comments


I had a view from backstage :p

Laptops, controllers. Intense as fuck. People couldn't dance straight for more than a few seconds. Factory Floor were on after Emptyset and their soundguy was like 'shit, that's a hard act to follow'

He speak the truth

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


6499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty heavy listen, but stunning nontheless. This and the new Haxan Cloak are some very nasty 2013 electronic albums.

Ugh, can't imagine the bleepy Factory Floor stuff being a fitting follow-up to such dark and dense material like this.

Adash
March 3rd 2013


1356 Comments


That said, Factory Floor have an amazing hardsynth with patching cables and all that

Presume Emptyset have shitloads of analogue hardware for recording

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I had a view from backstage :p

Laptops, controllers. Intense as fuck. People couldn't dance straight for more than a few seconds. Factory Floor were on after Emptyset and their soundguy was like 'shit, that's a hard act to follow'"

Oh wow, how'd you manage that? Awesome, bet it was intense.

"the new Haxan Cloak"

NEED this

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2013


6499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Check nodata.

It's awesome, obviously.

Adash
March 3rd 2013


1356 Comments


I was working at the festival whilst living in Krakow for a few months. It was genuinely an honour to be part of it.

And I totally clashed (that) Sasha Grey when I interrupted her to speak to Lustmord's wife

scissorlocked
March 4th 2013


3511 Comments


nice one bro

will definitely check

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

FelixCulpa
March 5th 2013


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is pretty sweet. I really like the pulsating nature of the songs. The silence in between is just awesome to hear.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 5th 2013


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Absolutely Felix, almost in the vein of some modern classical composers



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