“Your Skin Won’t Hide You” is the new track by Belgium’s Emptiness, from the group’s upcoming LP Not For Music. We are pleased to premiere it today. Emptiness has forged its own path in the world of extreme music by doing the unexpected, something that can be heard in the haunting, opening guitar figure on this track. The eerie, repeated part calls to mind the transformative qualities of minimalism. At first the repetition rubs, maybe even annoys, until it becomes such a consistent and powerful companion that the listener can’t imagine life without it.
Jeremie Bezier’s low, growling lyrics add an equally unsettling quality to the track, deepening our sense that we have somehow landed in a world or dimension where all is slightly askew and what we thought we believed or had determined to be true was anything but. This is one of the greatest qualities heard in the music of Emptiness, the ability to make the known unfamiliar and the unfamiliar even more frightening and uncertain. This is not music about comfort but instead about life’s disquiet, unrest and the fear that wants to grip us all.
Not For Music arrives on 20 January 2017. We spoke with the band’s Bezier (AKA Phorgath) about the making of the record, including working with Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle) and the universe found inside the music of Emptiness.
“Your Skin Won’t Hide You” opens with that haunting guitar part that’s repeated throughout the track. Was that where the song started or did that part come later?
When we are composing, we first imagine the structure and the tempo of the song as well as the feeling with which the song needs to resonate with the listener. In this instance, we wanted to base everything around a melody that was simple while being aggravating. The aim was to make the song evolve so that the imperfections and unwanted distortions become insignificant and non-existent.
The guitar sound. On one hand, it’s clean but has this watery quality to it. It adds a whole dimension to the sound and we hear it continued on “Digging the Sky”.
We took a while to discover the perfect sound for that part. It was the use of this nicer, “cleaner” sound that finally convinced us of the directive. We thought it was a failure up until the final mix, then we started to fully appreciate it.
The record really works against expectations of what extreme music is about. It almost always works against the expectations we have of heavy music and yet it’s incredibly heavy.
We try to play with the dynamic of the songs. We try to be powerful only for brief moments. We think that this kind of frustration allows the explosion to be more pleasurable.
We like to push the boundaries and limits of what was previously possible in extreme music. With this album, we do everything that we are not supposed to do within the genre/ style.
I think of “Circle Girl” as being a good example of everything that the band can do but placed in one song.
“Circle Girl” describes our planet as an innocent girl trapped within the grip of an old, shady sun full of terrible intentions. Rhythmically we try to evoke a feeling of rotation around a central axis, like the Earth around the Sun. This song encompasses well what we created on the album itself with its lengthy build-ups and intentionally heavy chorus.
You worked with Jeordie White as the producer on this record. How did his name come up and what did he bring to the recording process/in what ways did he challenge the band or take things to places you weren’t expecting?
We knew that Jeordie was a fan of our music and we were lucky enough to have met him several times. I think there was a mutual need to work together and he did not hesitate for a second when we asked him. He sort of took a mentor-like role and pushed us to show what we were capable of, for example how the song “Your Skin Won’t Hide You” opens with that haunting guitar part that’s repeated throughout the track.
“Ever” recalls industrial music, the darkness of Joy Division. Was all of that music that you like/liked as much as metal?
Our intention was not to mimic that sound despite us appreciating that kind of music, but we also made the same observation. We tried to create a more “pop-like” sound through the simple melody in order to provide a contrast to the rest of the album. Granted, we were slightly influenced by MGMT in writing this song so we did not want to do it any injustice. We first recorded the base for the album in Brussels at the Blackout Studios following which Jeordie invited us to Los Angeles to add the final touches and a fresh outlook to things. We will be forever grateful for everything he has done for us.
Sean Beavan did the mix. How did he get involved?
Jeordie proposed that we involve his friend Sean Beavan in the project. Obviously, we were very excited to work with such a reputed producer of such grandeur (Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson). It was already a dream come true for a small, an unknown band like us from Brussels getting to work with the greatest music producers from Los Angeles.
What do you hope the listener takes away from listening to the album?
We hope the listener will feel the void once the record stops playing. Human existence seems insignificant in comparison to the infinity of the world.
01. Meat Heart
02. It Might Be
03. Circle Girl
04. Your Skin Won’t Hide You
05. Digging the Sky
07. Let It Fall