Another album of endlessly deep drones and beats from Bristol, UK duo Emptyset, who created Medium from recordings made inside an abandoned mansion that they wired up and flooded with noise. Surprisingly short at just over twenty minutes, the album nonetheless packs a great deal of wallop into its five songs. Best appreciated on headphones (but be careful), the monstrous rattle and echo presented here is probably the loudest thing I’ve heard for a good while.
Anyone who heard Emptyset’s Demiurge will know what kind of thing to expect but, although that record was longer and more varied, Medium has an overwhelming power that seems to emanate from inside the listener and bore its way outwards. You can envision the solid, cold halls and corridors of the mansion shuddering with the bass pulses being sent along and around them; the beats made by Emptyset are akin to the tyrannosaur’s footsteps in Jurassic Park. On ‘Divide’ a brief drum roll sounds as though it’s caused the mansion to collapse, so powerful is the ensuing resonance. But whatever Emptyset does, the mansion can do it louder. Check ‘Mirror’, for example, where the beats are repeatedly consumed by the house and crushed away to nothing. The harder they go, the more vicious the responses get. By the time the album closes, it’s sending fierce drones back up the corridors towards you and you find yourself physically ducking to avoid being flattened.
I read Medium as being a version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and anyone with a penchant for Gothic horror should revel in the album’s house-as-living being theme. Fans of beats, noise, dubstep, drone and the darkest of dark techno will also find much to love as Emptyset place themselves at the forefront of a flourishing scene the UK can be proud of. With Andy Stott, Shackleton, Raime, Roly Porter and a whole host of others plumbing similarly doomy depths, it’s exciting to see it all developing and Medium is one of the master statements thus far.