Download of the Week: Emptyset
There are times when I think life is best described by picturing countless endlessly tall raw metal monoliths with no air or space between them, rubbing up and down, slow. A snail's pace slow and we, the observer, are the lubricant. It's at these times I enjoy a soundtrack to that movie and Emptyset's Borders, released on Thrill Jockey last month, works.
Each project’s framework and parameters dictate how the sound or performance evolves. In the past, Emptyset have explored the ways in which the sonic and spatial interact within different architectural contexts: often site-specific locations such as the decommissioned Trawsfynydd nuclear power station in North Wales, or the neo-gothic Woodchester Mansion. Borders takes a different approach, centering around the performative and the performer. Having each created their own tactile instruments, a six-stringed zither-like instrument and a drum, Emptyset focuses on how organic sounds interact with the analogue processes that have defined their work to date.Raw and captivating works for me (and "kinda pretty"). I would also add the importance of volume so that Borders has physicality. Darkness is a plus, too.
From the very first track, “Body,” one can hear how the physicality of the instruments have imbued the sound’s texture. The physical characteristics of the metal strings create a layer of dynamic juxtaposition to the grinding timbres emerging around them. The broody “Ascent,” features the album’s clearest call-and-response between the stringed instrument and the drum, barking and thudding back and forth at one another. Evident in tracks such as “Border” and “Speak,” Emptyset uses basic rhythmic structures drawn from an array of broad cultural practices, expressed neutrally and without overemphasis on the source. Taken as a whole Borders distills the duo’s inspirations to their essence and the resulting music is as raw as it is captivating.
Available on Bandcamp