Sunday, October 9, 2011

Zola Jesus- Conatus REVIEW

Zola Jesus aka Nika Rosa Danilova has a voice that could swallow a room. On her latest album, it often threatens to do this and more. There are moments on Conatus when the entire production seems to cower beneath her operatic baritone. However, despite an appealingly wide array of electronic beats and gothic atmosphere, Danilova’s presence renders this offering more intimate and downright romantic than what many were expecting. In the past, this one-woman act has strayed away from anything resembling traditional pop, though her vocals naturally lend itself to this type of treatment. And while Conatus indeed sounds predictably dark and majestic- it is without the inherent alienation featured on Danilova’s previous offerings. We are still far away from radio-friendly tunes, but Zola Jesus has always been about finding new ways to overpower the listener. Here she accomplishes this by drawing us closer.

For such a personal album, Conatus rarely feels warm. The brief one-minute intro “Swords” establishes this with a barrage of echoes and discordant sounds. Both “Avalanche” and “Vessel” double-down on that promise- the latter of which features a NINish beat as infectious as it is uncomfortable. Yet, from there the album grows increasingly mellow with “Seekir” and “In Your Nature” acting as the enjoyably faster paced outliers. This chill vibe is not really out of character for Zola Jesus; but at forty minutes, Conatus is Danivola’s lengthiest outing and therefore quite reliant on her voice to carry the brunt of the load, especially in the album’s back half. To her credit, she often feels overwhelming but never tedious. “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake” and the brilliant, slow-burning, “Collapse” are evidence of this ability to remain both fresh and powerful even in the home stretch. Similar to her previous work, many of Danilova’s songs feel interchangeable- the aforementioned exceptions notwithstanding. However, Conatus boasts an organic epicenter for these moments of familiarity to orbit. Zola Jesus has never sounded more human. And the listener can’t help but draw closer.


Zola Jesus - Avalanche by Treetop

Zola Jesus - Vessel by souterraintransmissions

Zola Jesus - Seekir by souterraintransmissions

Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake - Zola Jesus by kevinhuang250

11 - Zola Jesus - Collapse by nukCE

- Fr. Jones

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