REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha
EMA’S SECOND - “THE SOUND OF RESISTANCE TO DIGITAL COMMODIFICATION”
A tour-de-force of musical styles coalescing around contemplation of modern life and technology.
EMA – LP – The Future's Void - released by City Slang on 7 April 2014Erika M Anderson is back with a new album following 2011’s excellent “Past Life Martyred Saints”. It’s a schizophrenic ride that covers a lot of ground, and it will probably will leave your head spinning.
Less directly personal than its predecessor, “The Future's Void” sees EMA reaching out in all sorts of directions and dazzling us variously with techno beats and abrasive electronica (“Satellites” and “Neuromancer”) grungy Hole-esque indie attitude (“So Blonde”) or poignant folksy reflection (“100 Years”). That the songs sound underground, lo-fi and homemade may be the only unifying signature in the collection.
EMA helpfully explains her method thusly: “most of [the songs] were written through improvisation and quite often the take where the lyrics are still being written is the one that ended up on the track. I like the urgency of that “first take” vibe, and I like the quality of something that is being created in the moment. I feel like there is a simplicity and a truth to it.”
One of the recurring themes in the album is the seeming disassociation and chaos of the modern electronic age – and the toll it takes on us. For EMA in particular of course this is encapsulated in the intense media spotlight that surrounded ascension into the public consciousness following Past Life (“feel like I blew my soul out / across the interwebs and streams / it was a million pieces / of silver and I watched them gleam” on “3Jane”). Of course, satellites, surveillance and privacy have never been more topical – and for EMA this album “is the sound of resistance to digital commodification”. Unique and thought-provoking, EMA has produced an ambitious and worthy successor to 2011’s Past Life. Doubtless she will be thrust back into the limelight and this correspondent certainly looks forward to the show.