EMA – The Future’s Void (Matador)
In 2014, there is a new hot band every 12 hours—or less. Thanks, Internet. Who can keep up? What permeates through the noise?
Erika M. Anderson is EMA; this, her third album and first for Matador, came out three months ago. It could easily get lost in the shuffle: it’s dense and rewarding and doesn’t lend itself easily to first impressions. It’s the kind of album in which no one seems to have the time to invest anymore. Small wonder, then, that it is in part a meditation on the dearth of humanity in the voyeurism of online culture. “When everybody’s lookin’ / it’s supposed to be a dream,” she sings. “But disassociation, I guess it’s just a modern disease.”
Anderson manifests digital noise quite literally: the first thing we hear is a blast of white noise, followed by a lowest-of-the-low bass tone mixed with an ear-splitting treble frequency. (She spent some formative years in noise rock circles in the Bay Area.) Then EMA’s voice comes in with a sing-song melody—about satellites hovering over the chaos of Earth—to tie it all together. For all her love of distorted electronics, EMA has an equally sweet side: songs like “When She Comes” and “3Jane” are dependent on pianos and acoustic guitars; they are as easy on the ears as the howls of “Smoulder” are abrasive and emotionally raw. When she walks the middle ground, as on “So Blonde,” the result is reminiscent of a surefire mid-’90s alt-rock single. Rare is the young artist willing—or able—to show off so many sides of her artistic vision, yet Anderson does so with complete confidence, to say nothing of her songs and serious skills.
Anderson is 27 years old. That makes it a bit odd to hear her condemning someone for “making a living off of taking selfies … it’s such a narcissistic baby / it’s such a new millennial baby.” Considering the depth and maturity heard on The Future’s Void, it’s obvious Anderson is in this for the long haul. (June 26)
Download: “So Blonde,” “3Jane,” “When She Comes”