Review | EMA



EMA, The Future’s Void, Matador

Opening with ‘Satellites,’ Erika M. Anderson wins back clarity from a distortion of static. The Future’s Void is EMA’s follow up record to 2011’s  Past Life Martyred Saints. It looks forward into a world dominated by digital oppression, in which privacy has reached obsolescence. EMA conjures dystopic spectres, with torn vocals and electronic noise.

Second track ‘So Blonde’ has some of the distracted low key vocals of The Jesus and Mary Chain before Anderson screams in the chorus. It’s grunge all over again, perhaps with an implication that society is somehow regressing. We have the technology to watch everyone’s actions all the time and governments are still in a Cold War mindset: ‘I remember when the world was divided/ With a wall of concrete and a curtain of iron,’ Anderson sings.

This record struts its concerns: privacy in a digital age, political responsibility and anxiety about society. Referencing science fiction writer William Gibson’s seminal work Neuromancer, in the track of the same title, works to mirror the book’s foretelling of the internet by reflecting the consequences of the mass communication and observation network. The Future’s Void soundtracks a feeling of alienation that is sublimely modern. Isolated in a swell of people, EMA sings, ‘I was alone in the city.’  There are more science fiction references still to come. ‘I don’t recognise the person that I feel inside,’ she coos in ‘3Jane’, another reference to Gibson’s futurephobic works in which clone humans are named after their numerical generation: ‘Dissociation/ I guess is just a modern disease.’

Is everything bleak in EMA’s speculative look at the void of the future in this record? Can anything be salvaged? The orchestration on this record is certainly beautiful. It’s melancholic yet attractive. In ‘Smoulder’ EMA writhes, barely intelligible within the electronics surrounding it. She breaks through it. Maybe that’s the message. There will always be something human inside the machinery in which we entrap and wrap ourselves. The latter part of this record becomes more gentle, more naturalistic and, as a result, more human. ‘100 years’ begins with only piano to counterset Anderson’s voice. ‘Solace’ finds possibilities in apocalypse: ‘We make constellations/ out of the falling stars’. Closer ‘Dead Celebrity’ calls attention to the wave of sympathies that pour out for people we’ve never known if that person dies and was famous. Perhaps, as Anderson sings, ‘’Cause we wanted something timeless/ In this world so full of speed.’

The second part of the record may not be cheerful, but at least it offers a way through the digital threat looming over the majority of The Future’s Void. EMA has created a strong album which will haunt and stalk the listener.

Arike Oke

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