EMA isn’t very well known yet. If you google her name in the UK you are more likely to find websites on Education Maintenance Allowance, East Midlands Airport and MTV’s European Music Awards. In fact she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet, and her website figures so low in google ratings as to be near impossible to find (the address is www.cameouttanowhere.com btw). Despite this obscurity she is well worth your attention. Her new album “Past Life of Martyred Saints” is starting to pick up a small buzz on blogging websites, and has received glowing reviews in Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and NME. The buzz has spread to some broadsheet newspapers, and she may soon gain the success she deserves if introduced to the right audience.
So who is EMA? Well she is a 6ft blonde resident of South Dakota, with an androgynous style and a Thurston Moore indie haircut. Her full name is Erika M Anderson, and she was originally in obscure cult folk/drone band Gowns. Despite their underground status their fame as a live band is well documented, and they became a popular draw in numerous underground American scenes. She has now gone solo and “Past Life of Martyred Saints” is the result.
The album itself has a lot of touch stone influences with PJ Harvey and Courtney Love being mentioned a lot (even by EMA herself) but still manages to sound modern and fresh. There are folky moments, noise rock and electronic parts gelled together by a sustained (but not overpowering) atmosphere of darkness. At times the album recalls Kim Deals work with Sonic youth and at other times the slowcore beauty of Low, but it never sounds like an imitation.For such a low-fi recording EMA invests a lot in production. Her flips between low-fi and high-fi styles builds on the Pixies quiet/loud dynamics, and her dedication to atmosphere is clearly evident. The songs themselves contain multiple hooks, and the lyrics are personal almost, at times, to the point of unbearablity.
Single, and first track, The Grey Ship is possibly the highlight of the album. The slow folky noiserock build up recalls the Sonic Youth classic “The Diamond Sea”, and the final explosive payoff is breathtaking. Second single Milkman is less indicative of the albums style, but still a worthy track. The clanking background sound recalls industrial noiseniks to an almost danceable level as if it could be the final song played in the death disco from hell. Infact this song successfully manages to do what the other acronym named singer, MIA, tried and failed on her last album. Dense industrial beats, personal lyrics and tuneful listenable.That’s not to say ANY of the other songs are in anyway danceable. The album itself is designed to be listened to as a cohesive whole, probably by yourself, in the dark with a whiskey for company.
With an evergrowing wave of goodwill EMA is likely to become a word of Mouth success soon. Listen now and spread the word.
The Past Life of Martyred Saints is available now, and you can follow EMA on twitter at @EMAThorstar.
Visit our website: http://declineof.blogspot.com/