EMA (Erika M. Anderson) - "Past Life Martyred Saints" CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, May 06, 2011

EMA (Erika M. Anderson) - "Past Life Martyred Saints" CD Review

DOWNLOAD: EMA - "The Grey Ship" (from Past Life Martyred Saints)
STREAM: EMA - "Kind Heart" (16 -minute cover of Robert Johnson's "Kind-Hearted Woman")

EMA (Erika M. Anderson) - 'Past Life Martyred Saints' CD ReviewThe debut CD (out May 10th) from former Gowns guitarist/singer Erika M. Anderson is darkly beautiful and haunting. On Past Life Martyred Saints, Anderson weaves hypnotic narratives on top of music that is as delicate and turbulent as her emotionally raw lyrics. This is the sort of music that you could easily imagine being included in David Lynch's next film and Bitch Magazine's blog remarked "this is the music you hear when you're entering into the eye of the storm."

The South Dakota native, San Francisco by-way-of Los Angeles transplant EMA is an entirely self-taught musician and home-recording engineer. After getting her feet wet as the guitarist for legendary folk/noise band Amps For Christ, she formed the genre bending, cult and critical favorite Gowns with Ezra Buchla in 2004. Gowns' Red State and their entrancing live show earned the band due praise in The New York Times ("an intense but surprisingly pretty album"), Pitchfork ("one of the most jaw-dropping live bands on the American DIY underground circuit"), Village Voice ("totally gorgeous and shattering"), and LA Weekly ("Anderson shreds a guitar, sings, emotes...like a woman possessed"), among others, burning fast and bright before parting ways amicably early last year.

It is hard to pin this disc down with a specific genre label as, aside for a consistently dark melancholia and a shimmering "4AD-style" aura, Anderson seamlessly skips between genres that range from lo-fi indie folk to drone to industrial. (Note: EMA opened for Throbbing Gristle in San Francisco on their last tour). While the music pulls the listener into this disc, there are few points of light in Anderson's haunting tales of society's losers and outcasts and the raw intensity of her delivery leaves you out on the ledge with these characters. Her vocals ranges from spoken word to double-tracked choruses to gothic shrieks as she tells tales of ritual cutting and goth murder ("Butterfly Knife"), the bruises of past relationships and the lament of past excesses ("Marked") and the potential for having to repeat one's mistakes in the next life ("Anteroom" - video below). All of this culminates in the surprisingly uplifting "Red Star" which builds to a glorious crescendo as the disc comes to a close.

EMA is playing a few dates in the UK this month (tour dates below) and US tour dates will follow soon.

EMA Tour Dates:
05-11: London, UK - The Macbeth
05-12: London, UK - Cargo (w/ Scout Niblett)
05-13: Manchester, UK - FutureEverything/Islington Mill (w/ Scout Niblett)
05-14: Brighton, UK - The Great Escape @ NME Radar Stage (Horatios)