Gee, these are just not to my taste. I get a headache looking at them. I have the same reaction to over-processed music (you know, turn the distortion to max, and, even if the volume is low, one gets this empty sound).
Your comment about ´empty´ has more, possibly unsuspected, depth than you might have thought.
By definition, deserts are empty, so I won´t fight with you over that; however, within the genre, I think that one of the few alternative routes the photographer can take is to do as Mitch has done with his work, and go for a dramatic rendition of whatever can be incorporated into the work - I would think that to mean cloud effects.
But that´s not personal to me. What is, is this idea of emptiness which you mentioned and which I take you to mean in a spiritual sense of the word. It has haunted me on most of the few occasions when I have felt inclined to have a go at doing landscapes, leaving me with this feeling of failure. I know where this comes from: it stems from a long career shooting models, where landscape/background was just that - incidental to the main subject which was the girl and/or the clothes.
As a result, I always walk away from any such model-free photography with the sense that something vital is missing in the chemistry of the thing, that the picture is incomplete.
This should not be confused with a failure to appreciate or admire landscape photography which is well done; it is not that at all, but it is some sort of mental impediment that forever gets in the way of my doing the same.
Funny old world...