Emptyset live up to their name with the sparse minimalism of 'All Together Lost'
'All Together Lost' is innocuous and inoffensive trancey, minimal house music, but what else is there to say about it?
The two Ben Klock mixes trundle towards the finish line in a loosely-woven wash of compressed topline synthvoice and fluty motifs, with an approach to beats-oriented music that owes more to visuals on a computer screen than it does to any sort of compositional ambition. Both Ben Klock mixes are pretty similar. The 'Glowing Clap' version features a little more percussive texture and tempo, but beyond that the differences are superficial. Both feature a sampled vocal repeating the word 'glowing' in a style akin to the 'Oh yes, there will be blood' voice from the 'Saw' franchise. A flimsy kickbeat pervades throughout the length of the track, garnished sporadically with additional percussive quirks for eight or sixteen bars.
…every addled rave-survivor-cum-crystal-therapy-ayurvedic-chakra-botherer with a windchime farm on Ibiza pastes these pick 'n' mix spiritual platitudes
The most interesting aspect of the piece is the open high-hat beat, which follows a slightly different time signature than the rest of the percussion. If it were being played by a live drummer we could stroke our chins and nod sagely at the skill it takes to make the right hand bang out a beat at a different rate to the rest of the limbs. Knowing that the effect was created by simply cutting and pasting a separate line of beats across the screen though, mars the effect somewhat. The mixdown is certainly spacious – the individual elements of the track do not clash. Neither, unfortunately, do they ever cohere. The act's name – Emptyset – is apt. There is no groove driving the song; no quirky discord to be intrigued by; no pleasing harmony to lift the soul; no squelching bassline to sway the loins. Instead, there is the clinical and machinelike distance of emotionless deep house music. The accompanying promo materials make much of the artists' Detroit and Berlin provenance – both cities with dance music subcultures which made that approach part of their defining characteristic. About thirty years ago.
The mixdown is certainly spacious – the individual elements of the track do not clash. Neither, unfortunately, do they ever cohere.
The Ben Klock mixes delight in their stubborn unwillingness to deviate from their pared-back minimal approach to dance music, and they are to be respected for that. Clearly there are venues where they will be embraced by purists who will applaud their clean, sterile aloofness, even if the rest of us might wonder when the dj is actually going to stop feeding us his 303 underlay and actually put a record on.
The Ripperton mix is intriguing and chunders along nicely for a few bars, with a more defined snare and some evocative keyboard atmospherics until, out of nowhere, a stentorian vocal comes wading in with some third-rate celtic-twilight style 'poetry' by Aleister Crowley. '…[W]ith the light that stirs and the lustres of the dawn'; 'these are real, these illusions, I am of them'; 'all is fusion in the spirits', and other random detritus from the cod-spiritual phrasebook of 1920s theosophy.
…repeating the word 'glowing' in a style akin to the 'Oh yes, there will be blood' voice from the 'Saw' franchise
You know the stuff – every addled rave-survivor-cum-crystal-therapy-ayurvedic-chakra-botherer with a windchime farm on Ibiza pastes these pick 'n' mix spiritual platitudes into their Facebook status feed on a witheringly regular basis. What they are doing in the middle of a track that seems otherwise designed to celebrate everything that is stolid, immutable and corporeal is anyone's guess. It's queasy listening indeed. The unintentional comedy of the lines is difficult to ignore, with the dramatic tension of wondering whether the narrative is going to feature Cornish piskies rising from the mists in the next line, or whether it will be Jim Corr-style Illuminatus conspiracy theories which get the nod, being the most compelling aspect of the vocal. Presumably, the intended effect was something akin to 'All That Glitters' by Dead Elvis but it turns out more like Baz Lurhmann's 'Sunscreen' as written by an intern copywriting an advertisement for single malt scotch ('all is fusion in the spirits').
Emptyset featuring Corneileus Harris's EP All Together Lost Remixes EP is out now on CLR
Sean Keenan used to write. Now he edits, and gets very annoyed about the word ‘ethereal’. Likely to bite anyone using the form ‘I’m loving….’. Don’t start him on the misuse of three-dot ellipses.
Divides his time between mid-Spain and South-West France, like one of those bucktoothed, fur-clad minor-aristocracy ogresses you see in Hello magazine, only without the naff chandeliers.