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Erika M Anderson’s debut album as EMA, 2011’s Past Life Martyred Saints, was a magnificent portrait of South Dakotan smalltown ennui. As second albums often do, The Future’s Void explores similar themes on a grander scale. As second albums often don’t, it succeeds.
With songs switching between digitised industrial brutality and soothing lullabies, her voice going from languorous murmurs to PJ Harvey-style howls, Anderson depicts the alienating effects of technology, its bewitchment over her generation of millennials.
Opening track “Satellites” (static bursts of feedback, dystopian bassline) imagines a dazzling artificial nightscape of unmanned spacecraft while the anaesthetised alt-ballad “3Jane” finds a bewildered Anderson wandering through the traces she has left of herself on the internet.
In “Neuromancer”, named after William Gibson’s 1984 cyberpunk novel, she directly addresses her peers, a selfie-snapping cohort heedless of the Orwellian surveillance they’re under. “Is that the way you want it to be?” Anderson sings powerfully, drums clattering around her, a fuzzy squall of guitars rising up in distressed electronic disarray: “You choose, you choose.” Apart from the odd grandiose pronouncement (“Disassociation, I guess it’s just a modern disease”), the focus is intimate and humanistic, a search for connection in the age of connectivity: “It’s something deep inside me/I just can’t explain.”
The Future’s Void