Emptyset is the innovative electronic duo of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas. The pair shares a history in Bristol's underground music scene as well as an impressive list of production credits. The duo composes within a complex set of self-imposed parameters or rule sets and the results of their expeditions on Borders are at once minimal and visceral. Focusing on shifting timbral changes over melody, Emptyset's work is an exploration of the relationship between rhythm, texture and space.
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.
Contrasting typical approaches to making electronic music, Emptyset set out to emphasize live performance rather than creating sequences within devices. While Purgas and Ginzburg utilize vintage analogue electronics, compressing and distorting the signals, the album itself is performed entirely live, where subtle movements make for substantial changes in sound. 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.