Finding a balance between the natural and industrial world
Emptyset’s Blossoms is more of an extended experience than it is a traditional record. There aren’t commercial singles, but every song should be considered as a building block to the next, resulting in Blossoms’ morphing theme. Emptyset is known for its sophistication and sound design, as its music is a culmination of the duo’s knowledge in architecture, visual art and audio engineering. Blossoms is a sinister-sounding, industrious record full of metallic sounds and growling low-end bass frequencies. It is void of traditional melody and harmony proving to be a deeply introspective, meditative experience.
Paul Purgas and James Ginzburg, the two members that comprise Emptyset, instituted a machine learning system, described on their band camp as: “A process of seeding a software model with a sonic knowledge base of material to learn and predict from,” to create Blossoms. Using acoustic recordings of wood, metal and drum skins mixed with electronic elements of production, the record was formed and finds a balance between natural and industrial themes.
Although the duo did use acoustical elements during recording, the record proves to sound more mechanized than it does natural. The record is thematic and its sound is ominous. Emptyset has accomplished making a project that sounds mimetic to a machine processing information. The sounds contained in Blossoms bend, fold, collapse and expand, similar to how an individual’s perspective and learning process will, or in this case, a machine’s. It’s mathematical and organic. It’s consistent and disjunctive.
While some songs do contain basic elements of rhythmic structure like “Blossom” or “Axil,” others unfold more organically and without a distinguishable pattern. A song like “Blade,” which lacks the percussive instruments heard in “Blossom” or “Axil,” conjures a sense of peace amidst the sometimes-abrasive moments layered in the project. The atmospheric introduction and calming white noise enveloped in the track provides the listener with a space for reflection and meditation.
Purgas and Ginzburg are vanguards of sound design and the architecture of music. Although Blossoms is void of traditional harmony, melody or structure, it’s a record that begs to be talked about. The sophistication behind the seemingly stark project is immeasurable and to best understand the record, one must understand the duo’s understanding of what Emptyset is and their dedication to “examine patterns of emergence and augmentation, fragmentation and resilience, and the convolution of the biotic and abiotic agency.”