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[SUB038] james ginzburg - crystallise, a frozen eye [SUBTEXT RECORDINGS]
digital strategy & press
From the press-release:
Throughout his career, james ginzburg has shown a relentless desire to map the musical landscape's distant poles. As half of industrial-experimental duo Emptyset he has wrestled with extremes, tearing apart techno and harsh noise frameworks and re-assembling them with endearing passion.
Running the Subtext label, he has nurtured artists from across the musical spectrum, from avant jazz composer Yair Elazar Glotman and sound designer Aho Ssan, and acclaimed minimalist Ellen Arkbro, as well as co-running the Arc Light Editions imprint with BBC3 Late junction's Jennifer Lucy Allan. And as a solo artist, ginzburg has tackled folk, club music, ambient and drone with a similarly enthusiastic intellectual curiosity. The last Emptyset album, 2019's "Blossoms", was rooted in complex sound design assembled using elements synthesized from neural networks.
To challenge that approach, ginzburg set about developing an acoustic counterpoint. "crystallise, a frozen eye" is a patient, meditative album, built slowly and pointedly around largely repurposed folk instruments.
Photo on courtesy of the artist
Over eleven tracks, ginzburg ruminates on the complex tonal qualities of the Appalachian dulcimer, the psaltry, the shruti box, Daf drum, an acoustic guitar and a custom-made string instrument designed for Emptyset's "Borders". The sole electronic element, a Sunn o)))-esque sub bass rumble, comes from ginzburg's Octave Cat, the analog synthesizer he used on enduring bass music classic "Purple City", a collaboration with Bristol's Joker who incidentally mastered the album.
Harnessing the evolving, tonally rich qualities of both familiar and forgotten instruments, ginzburg has reached a poetic musical peak, fusing his engineering experience with the expressive, fallible humanity of acoustic performance. It continues ideas laid out by artists such as Catherine Christer-Hennix, Ellen Arkbro and Laraaji, melting folk history with deep listening practices and the sheer enjoyment of both sound and duration.
Image by Clayton Welham
Concept: Theresa Schubert
Video by Theresa Schubert
Written in the fall of 2020, "crystallise, a frozen eye" brings up universal themes of isolation, safety and mortality, but traps them beneath a veneer of archeological curiosity.
In looking back to the sounds and textures of pre-Christian Europe, ginzburg occupies a space that falls outside of current cultural trends. His music instead reflects our shifting relationship with time, inspiring us to contemplate memory, repetition and stasis.
The album is presented as limited edition short book containing images and three texts that expand on and weave together some of the record's themes.
Cover image by Clayton Welham
Design by Monika Janulevičiūtė
Photography and text by James Ginzburg
Text editor: Hannah Gregory
All tracks written and produced by James Ginzburg
Recorded 2020 in Schöneberg, Berlin
Mastered by Joker
May 7. 2021
Format: digital & book
Publishing: Multiverse Music
'crystallise, a frozen eye' is available on