South Dakota born, LA dwelling singer / guitarist and ex-Gowns member EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) left her old band in 2010 and one productive year later had produced this rambunctious nine track debut. The songs are brooding and layered, epic in both name and delivery. Entitled 'Past Life Martyred Saints', this record hardly shys away from being grandiose. The most grandiose aspect of all however, is depth of emotional turmoil in the songs. Anderson lets it all flow out, sounding like she’s on the verge of falling apart and we’re being sucked into the mad decent with her.
Album opener and former single 'The Grey Ship' is beautifully husky, plunging into The XX territory with morose guitar lines and layered vocals. The attitude ridden California is a shoegaze storm as Anderson’s deadpan vocals rant atop the feedback nightmare below and in the gigantic track 'Milkman', nothing escapes the sea of distortion (not even the vocals) whilst a cutting stadium drum beat holding the chaos together.
If it all sounds overblown and massive, that’s because it is. However Anderson is no one trick pony as stripped down songs such as 'Anteroom', sounding like an acoustic Nirvana demo, 'Marked', being just vocals, a guitar and a windstorm (no really) and 'Breakfast', will contest. These brittle songs balance perfectly with the screeching dystopia of the rest of the record.
Past Life Martyed Saints is an organic beast, seemingly fluid, changing with each listen. Anderson has gone headfirst into these songs and the results are so honest, so desperate, so vulnerable that by the time the superbly somber and well placed 'Red Star' unfolds as the closing track, you’ll feel dazed; plunged into Anderson’s crazy world and gently escorted out the other side once the storm is over, wondering what the hell just happened. And you know what’s weirdest of all? It feels brilliant.
EMA - The Grey Ship by souterraintransmissions
EMA - Milkman by souterraintransmissions