The Future’s Void
On EMA’s debut Past Life Martyred Saints, Ericka M. Anderson exposed every weakness and flaw imaginable on what would be one of the most emotionally raw albums of 2011. To expect her to return to the well of misery again would be masochistic, and fortunately with The Future’s Void, she’a turned the mirror on the listener, exploring our self-image and how we mold, mutilate, and mask it via the internet. While Martyred Saints examined how we see ourselves, 2014’s The Future’s Void dissects how we want other’s to see us and the self-inflicted vulnerability that comes with it.
Anderson has claimed that The Future Void isn’t a concept album. Despite this assertion, every song on the album seems to merge at some point back toward references to what she sardonically labels as the “superhighway.” From the cover image of her holding up a vacuumous virtual reality headset to the songs’ reoccurring imagery of “Big Brother” watching over us, this album definitely has a focus if not an overlying theme. This message is best found on album highlight “3Jane” where Anderson laments “Feel like I glued my soul out across the inter-webs and screamed/…It left a hole so big inside of me.” The song builds over a rolling piano as Anderson whispers out her futile frustrations.
Musically, The Future’s Void dabbles in a variety of genres. “Chtulu,” “Smoulder,” and “Neuromancer” are highly influenced by 90s era industrial music with their icy sheen and garbled vocals, screaming beneath the ominous, digital synth. While this middle section of the album is doom and gloom, its bookended by softer moments like “100 Years” and “3Jane” with watery pianos and Anderson’s soft register, front and center. The most infectious song on the album, “So Blonde,” steers in a completely different direction from the rest, influences of Liz Phair and Hole bubbling throughout the nostalgic romp.
Despite all these differing inspirations, the album doesn’t play like a genre buffet. Instead, Anderson visits each style and blends in her signature crushed, whispering/screaming vocals and bleak lyrical outlook. Some may argue that The Future’s Void lacks the intimacy of Past Life Martyred Saints, but I see it differently. Instead of exposing herself via her music this time around, Anderson forces the listener to see how we all are creating a ghost of ourselves online that eventually will be just as revealing as anything EMA has put to tape.