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Album Review

Emptyset is a production duo from Bristol, U.K., the same city that produced Tricky and Massive Attack in the 1990s. Like those artists, their work is based in large part around the manipulation of low frequencies, but unlike them, there is no interest here in having a hit record or even writing a song as such. This is ultra-minimal instrumental music primarily constructed of sine waves, rhythmic hissing, carefully manipulated static, and bass that booms, rumbles and throbs. Some tracks are faster, some are softer, some offer sounds like a vacuum cleaner heard down a distant subway tunnel while others hum at the frequency the doctor uses when he's testing your hearing. At times it's reminiscent of the dubby, enigmatic 12" singles released on the Basic Channel label; at its noisiest, it recalls the work of Finnish duo Pan Sonic. It's not exactly techno, it's not dubstep, and it's not industrial. It's somewhere in the middle of those, a sort of black hole into which an unwary listener can quite easily fall and find him or herself spending an hour spinning in disoriented circles, wondering who turned the lights out.


Formed: England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in 2005 by American-born musician James Ginzburg and British contemporary art curator Paul Purgas after meeting through the consistently fruitful Bristol, U.K. music scene, the pair found that, while their day-to-day backgrounds differed, their musical reference points seemed to match. Emptyset's debut release, the Acuphase EP, came in 2007, followed later that year by the Isokon EP. These early 12"s drew heavily on minimal techno, and it wasn't until the release of Emptyset's self-titled...
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