EMA - The Future's Void

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7.5 Release Date:2014-04-07

An acquaintance told me I should really get my lugholes round the sophomore album by EMA, The Future’s Void.  He said that it’s “very dark”. On those two words alone I deemed it worth the ear-time.

On opener ‘Satellites’, it appears all too quickly to be an album of dark, dystopian post-punk sounds. A wall of white noise is immediately upon you like a rabid dog shared by handclaps and EMA’s repeat refrain, “Open the satellites’. As it progresses, we get frenzied cathartic electronica and twisted synth patterns which revel in their muscular frame. Track two, ‘So Blonde’, is as far afield musically as its predecessor with a ringing acoustic guitar against a standard rock arrangement but EMA’s chameleon like vocal change from dark sultry tones to cat wail maintains your attention. This cold and singular approach to making music is what makes this album so special. It’s self-produced and apparently recorded in her home. 

‘So Jane’ is sharply irresistible. A torch song, mid-paced but huge in surround-sound, while EMA whispers hauntingly across some sparse but prominent keys. ‘Cthulu’ is in similar vein but the stoic drums and minimalistic clean lines have more of a soaring, monolithic feel. 

You could be quick to claim that this has more than an element of Goldfrapp about it (vocally), but while they have a longing for disco, EMA focusses on taking us down her own dingy, languid alley of misery. The ending of ‘Smoulder’ epitomises this with a squall of hiss, discordant keys and an unkempt arrangement. The black feeling which hangs over the album is ominously rife on ‘Neuromancer’, on which EMA screeches about all things Satanic: “Like Luicifer, I will survive,” she hollers incessantly. 

Overall, The Future’s Void has a rich formula of twists and turns while the eclectic use of instruments and arrangements encourage several listens, such is its beguiling value. EMA closes with a haunting organ wrapped around the funereal ‘Dead Celebrity’, a sombre piece of music accompanied only by some dry, dark beats and a healthy compliment of fireworks.

If you need to go to a dark place and have some ‘me time’ then this album will light your fire for sure. Not one for the faint hearted but a leading light in gothic mystery this year.

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