Punk Online




Following last month’s bold anti-nationalist opening statement, ‘Aryan Nation’, taken from her forthcoming album third album, Exile In The Outer Ring’ (August 25th, City Slang), EMA has shared a second track and announced UK & European live dates.

The new track, ‘Breathalyzer’, is a Gowns-style seven-minute noise epic, extending modular synth solos over a simple, almost chant-like melody, until the tale of one woman’s “heroic dose” in the backseat of a car turns into an exercise in suspense.

The story in “Breathalyzer” is very much an Outer Ring story” explains Erika M. Anderson. “It’s about kids getting fucked up in the back of a midlevel sedan and driving through suburban landscapes.  I especially wanted to present a non-moralizing view of a woman deciding to take drugs. In most media representations, if a woman decides to take a substance she usually loses control and something bad happens. She is punished for her choices. I wanted to acknowledge that possibility of danger, but in the end she is her own judge as she confronts herself in the mirror while tripping heavily.”

Director Alicia Gordon adds: ““By utilizing vague human interactions, sexual nuances and subversive body language the rest of the narrative is left to individual viewers’ devices. It was important to me to maintain a fairly high level of in-camera purity with lighting and lenses rather than rely on excessive filters and post production. Thus illustrating one woman’s chosen escape from reality and how it existentially functions beyond her experience.” 

After the success of 2011’s Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014’s prophetic The Future’s VoidEMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon – a generic apartment complex in a non-trendy neighborhood, with beige carpeting and cheap slat blinds. Now, she returns, with a portrait of The Outer Ring: A pitch-black world of dark night highways, American flags hung over basement windows, jails and revival meetings and casinos and rage. In a year dominated by white working-class alienation and anger, EMA – a Midwesterner who never lost her thousand-yard stare — has delivered an album that renders Middle American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.

In the first glimpse at the new record, ‘Aryan Nation’, feminist alienation becomes working-class alienation (“if you can’t see yourself in a “famous man,” is it because he’s a man, or because he’s famous?”) just as one person’s abuser becomes the systemic abuse of a nation. It’s an expansive vision that brings together concerns from every corner of our present moment — and themes that have recurred throughout EMA’s career, from the brutality of late capitalism to the collapsing boundaries between private and public — into one dark portrait of what it means to be American in 2017.

‘Exile In The Outer Ring’, co-produced with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, is a return to EMA’s roots in the noise-folk outfit Gowns, whose 2007 album Red State prefigured many of Exile’s core themes, along with its mix of stripped-back folk (“Always Bleeds,” originally a Gowns song), spoken word (“Where the Darkness Began”) and noise epics (“Breathalyzer”).

The album is unique in its mingling of gender politics with American working-class anxiety. The voices we hear in these songs — druggy, surly societal outcasts; Byronic nihilists bringing down fire — speak to a kind of rebellion that’s typically reserved for men, and the archetype of the “dirtbag teenage boy” dominates the album. Yet EMA claims some of that same dirtbag alienation for women — “a woman who swallowed a scumbag teen boy whole,” as EMA puts it – and uses it to interrogate both her own vulnerability and how male violence shapes the world.

The result is a deeply personal, confrontational, but ultimately redemptive album from a quintessentially American artist at the peak of her form.

‘Exile in the Outer Ring’ will be released on August 25th 2017 via City Slang.
Pre-order it here: https://emaband.lnk.to/exileintheouterring

EMA live dates:
19 – Aarhus, DK @ Voxhall
20 – Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
22 – Amsterdam, NL @ De Nieuwe Anita
23 – Cologne, DE @ King Georg
24 – Brussels, BE @ Autumn Falls / Botanique
26 – Berlin, DE @ Berghain // Certain People Festival (w/ Blank Mass & Forest Swords)
27 – Munich, DE @ Kranhalle
28 – St. Gallen, CH @ Palace
29 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik
30 – Paris, FR @ Le Batofar
02 – Brighton, UK @ Sticky Mike’s
03 – London, UK @ Oslo
04 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
05 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Games Room
06 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
07 –  Leicester, UK @ The Cookie
10 – Ljubljana, SI @ Hrupni Večeri Noisey Nights Series, Gala Hala
11 – Budapest, HU @ Durer Kert
12 – Vienna, AT @ Arena
13 – Prague, CZ @ Meet Factory