This past week, the music press has been vibrating with excitement about EMA's new noisepop album The Future's Void. And it's easy to see why. EMA combines William Gibson shoutouts and the Oculus Rift-wearing CD cover with dystopian angst. Just check out this music video, in which weirdly sexual video-game characters invade reality.
Plus her songs are ear-wormy as all get-out, in a very early 90s way. Love that Grunge-influenced synthesizer sound and the breathy vocals. (Incidentally, EMA stands for Erika M. Anderson.)
Here's another video, for "Satellites":
And here's a youtube that just contains her Gibson-influenced song "3Jane":
As NPR says:
There's the title of her second album, The Future's Void, with its odd, homonym-like instability. It could refer to the deep, blank space of a dehumanized tomorrow, or it could imply that no tomorrow will greet us at all. Or it could just be a new spin on an old, cathartic punk threat: No future for you.
Anderson's music submerges the listener within such uncertainties as they resolve and spin out again through new misfiring synapses. Sex and love fed the central confusion on EMA's raw, heartrending first album Past Lives Martyred Saints. The Future's Void is as emotionally intense, but its concerns are more foundational: the nature of the self, enabled but also limited by being a body, in ways now challenged by technology that replicates, enhances and possibly destroys individual identities. You know, cyberpunk stuff. But what's great about The Future's Void isn't its frame of reference, which hearkens back to William Gibson's novels, Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, PJ Harvey and the just-post-Cold War mood of The X-Files.
The former Gowns vocalist deals with universal themes of privacy invasion and technology's ever-growing influence on human interaction. 'Neuromancer' attacks the share-all culture of social networking ("I know more than you do about the things that you do"), backed by a furious and metallic Nine Inch Nails rattle. 'Solace', meanwhile, has a bass-heavy techno undercurrent, with Anderson singing "We make constellations out of fallen stars" as though straining to see through the dense electronics. This shift to a starker, machine-led sound is in opposition to EMA's easy way with a pop hook – a contrast that's most effective on 'Smoulder', where her melodies scribble over the synthetic gridlines. These same melodies are given more freedom to roam on the sparse, string-tinged arrangement of '100 Years', and they positively bloom amidst the swell of '3Jane'. The latter is a slow-burning torch ballad about the accelerated internet exposure she received for her last album and 'The Future's Void''s most introspective song, containing the lament, "I feel like I blew my soul out across the interwebs … it left a hole so big inside of me."
Wait... did she say "interwebs"? Yes she did, as Spin points out:
And yes, Anderson called it "the Interwebs," which seems like a hint that maybe you shouldn't take this record entirely at face value, since EMA herself seems to be laughing into the digital void a little bit. Bypassing self-congratulatory, surface-skimming grump-outs about stupid-ass #selfies and those doggone #milennials, EMA has crafted a wide-eyed, open-eared, reasonably horrified, digi-noise drone-folk treatise about the soul-sucking, privacy-wrecking qualities of online life.