Emptiness - Vide
Season Of Mist
Dark Ambient
10 songs (43:32)
Release year: 2021
Bandcamp, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Ugh. Putting a dead baby (well, it doesn't look very alive, does it?) on the front of your album is never something that sits right, down there with Nazi symbology and gore in terms of a blunt attempt at shocking the audience. Belgians Emptiness have normally been better than this, successfully leaving it to their music to unsettle and disturb, so seeing the cover artwork for Vide didn't exactly inspire any more than the realisation that this would be the band's first French language album. Recorded in lockdown with a portable setup between members' apartments, cabins, and even rooftops, Vide at least sounds better than you'd think. It takes the disturbing gothic rock of excellent predecessor Not for Music and pushes it even further into darkwave territory, songs comprised more of snippets of melodies ghostly layered around simple post-punk drumbeats and languid clean singing.

Yet it's far less confrontational and sinister than Not for Music and so lacks its eerie power entirely, feeling very constrained and rather samey even beyond initial listens. Albums like this should sink their tendrils into your mind more on each experience, yet Vide really struggles to make an impact even if you're the type of person who is patient with ambient music. You can pick highlights out, if you squint; the likes of Ce beau visage qui brûle are instrumentally quite involved with soft guitar textures weaving with the rhythm section and ambient noise beneath the vocals, here a little more distorted than elsewhere, as on the oddly rhythmic, almost conversatory On n'en finit pas. Often the vocals are the most eerie aspect, the almost sexual gasps of Détruis‐moi à l'amour working well alongside the reverb-drenched percussion. L'erreur meanders before compellingly fading into electronic noise, a neat and distinct moment that could have been explored further. Finale (and longest track present at over seven minutes) L'ailleurs feels most like a coherent song with a jazzier vibe than others, but also feels most like a weaker echo from Not for Music, even when defanged and given this softened makeover.

Most other tracks fall flat individually, like the gentle but rather lifeless Plus jamais which largely feels more like an unfinished jam session than a compelling piece of dark music from this band that is so traditionally good at it. Perhaps Not for Music pointed the band in this direction, but the results here are hugely disappointing even so, feeling unfinished even if you accept it as a transitory record for what the band are trying to make their style into. Then again, maybe we can simply blame Covid-related lockdowns for pushing the band into this? It seems unlikely that we'll get another Nothing but the Whole or Not for Music from Emptiness, still a band with a fascinating and unique if very flawed approach to making dark music, but let's hope future endeavours are at least better and more focused than Vide.

Killing Songs :
Ce beau visage qui brûle, Détruis‐moi à l'amour, L'ailleurs
Goat quoted 45 / 100
Other albums by Emptiness that we have reviewed:
Emptiness - Not for Music reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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There are 2 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:43 am
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