Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Track Review: EMA - Active Shooter


EMA's released some fantastic material over the years; I’m still mildly addicted to Past Life Martyred Saints and Leif Shackelford's viola inclusions on said album (he also very kindly created a mix for my radio show last year.) Erika's song-writing has always been poetic, the pounding "California" with its encoded brilliance: "Love so much so real so fucked, it's 5150." Her work in Gowns will be remembered for gritty lyricism and even grittier drone recordings; in the Godspeed You! Black Emperor gritty way. Erika has chosen her path since Past Life Martyred Saints; EMA's music has seamlessly transitioned from a mild form of noise rock ("Milkman", "Marked", "The Grey Ship") to a more dissonant reality with The Future's Void's "Satellites", and her nuance of political noise rock. Her cover of Sinéad O’Connor's "Black Boys On Mopeds" is a darkened apathetic view on what we see in the mainstream news; and it paves the way for her latest release "Active Shooter".


Now this is the bridge between political opinion and matters of public discussion. "Active Shooter", without tying in the lyrics which I’ll touch upon below, is a harrowing music video depicting police simulating a school shooting. Musically, it's a distorted thumping NIN-esque call to arms - if you'll mind the blatant pun there - it would fit perfectly on a detective based, 24 type series finale. As for the lyrics, well they're emotional to say the least. It's tricky because who am I (a UK-citizen who doesn't own a gun or have immediate access to a gun) to say US citizens should follow the same system as we have,  additionally who am I to say US citizens shouldn't follow the same system as we have. 

Lets dissect: "Anyone in America, wrong time wrong place in a hallway," yep, agree with that - no matter who you are or where you are there's always a threat; you may not like it, but it's been built in to society now that at any minute you could be at risk, of course this is extremely unlikely - but it's in your mind, isn't it. "Armed good guys are a myth, never saved no one from shit," this one I’m wholesomely against, though the more general message Erika is portraying here is along the lines of 'fighting gun violence with guns is not the answer', which I absolutely agree with. "Angry white boys get uptight, got no right to end a life," okay sure, it's justified in the cases of Sandy Hook and Columbine where mentally deranged lunatics killed innocents - and mark my words, you do have to be mentally deranged to point a gun at children and shoot. The point I disagree with is the generalising of young white males. Not to mention that this particular case in Oregon was carried out by a mixed-race British-born IRA sympathising mentally deranged lunatic, not your typical Caucasian American young narcissistic loser like Adam Lanza; but the similiarities are there. I don't think race defines the act of cowardice. It's accurate to say that school shootings on a whole tend to be carried out by white males in the USA, but we can't ignore the huge levels of gun crime commited by African-Americans on an everyday basis. EMA's emotional response to tragedy is key here, and this is another tragedy. It's awful to admit it, but it's only a matter of time till the next one - not necessarily due to eased gun control, but because this sickening behaviour is idolised by sickening individuals - and in this age of social status attention seeking, school shootings will unfortunately never be eradicated, even if every rifle and every pistol in America is taken away; that threat will forever loom. And that, I believe, is what Erika is conveying here, possibly.. maybe - we've gone so far down the rabbit hole that there’s no end in sight.
~Eddie Gibson

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