EMA – The Future’s Void
By Cee Cee Hill
EMA released one of the best albums of 2011, Past Life Martyred Saints. It was a dark, very emotional collection of songs and apparently quite personal. So, naturally, expectations for her next record were very high. Would she keep up?
Perhaps the overwhelming critical and public reaction to her debut was too much pressure. For The Future’s Void, EMA took her time and isolated herself from the world. On it, the South Dakota native turns down the emotional sensibility a notch but she still creates visceral songs using noise, distortion and synthesizers. She moved from introspective feelings (hers or someone else’s) to outward behavior.
On songs like “3Jane,” “Neuromancer” and “Dead Celebrity” she explores people’s behavior on the Internet; the apparent lack of privacy, from the government tracking our status (‘they know more about the things you do, they know more about it than you do’) to our narcissist obsession (‘makin a living off of taking selfies’).
But as EMA has stated in several interviews, The Future’s Void is not about criticizing the Internet and its users. She observes the world and talks about what surprises her. There is also an air of 90’s music and what EMA calls “meta-grunge. “Songs like “So Blonde” and “When She Comes” are more cheerful and rock harder than most of the album’s other tracks. They don’t seem to fit quite right (in terms of thematic and instrumentation), but they serve an important purpose in bringing the listener some solace.
A characteristic from her previous album that I really liked was EMA’s enunciation. Lyrics were clear and very poetic. It made me think of Patti Smith. On the contrary, in The Future’s Void the lyrics are blurred and hard to understand, as if it was more about the feelings from the sound than the words themselves. EMA also plays with the similar pronunciation of words (you would need to read the lyrics to get that). In “Neuromancer,” you don’t know if she is saying “my Lucifer” or “might lose some fur” and in “Solace” she might be saying “soulless.”
The Future’s Void has been out for a few months already, but it’s not too late to check it out. Erika M Anderson (EMA) is a very original artist who experiments with both her songwriting and her sound but still manages to keep the songs accessible. She’s a strong woman who brings a sensitive and insightful point of view of the world around us. In her own words:
Who can blame the world and me
Cuz we wanted something timeless
In this world so full of speed