Jan 2018 07

Zola Jesus - OvokiZola Jesus
Category: Experimental / Goth / Electro-pop
Album: Ovoki
Blurb: Returning to Sacred Bones Records for her fifth album, Zola Jesus delivers a soulful helping of dark art pop that may leave a few emotional scars once the ordeal is concluded.


After releasing the critically acclaimed Taiga on Mute Records, Zola Jesus – a.k.a. Nika Roza Danilova – returns to Sacred Bones Records for her fifth album, Ovoki. Renowned for her artful and soulful pop sensibilities that blend the earnest and intelligent themes evoked by the likes of Peter Gabriel or even Sinéad O’Connor with gothic atmospheres and vocal prowess akin to Diamanda Galás, Zola Jesus stands in a class all her own, with Ovoki marking some of her strongest material yet. There has always been an ethereal and dreamy quality to her music, but with Ovoki as Danilova confronts melancholy and depression head on, her voice takes on the semblance of an almost angelic warrior shining a light through obscure corridors of one’s mind. The harmonious vocal layers she exhibits throughout the album are at once solemn and fervent, with “Exhumed” being a prime example as she howls with a furious intensity that draws the listener into a nether realm of entrancing textures full of shrill stabs of strings, sparse electronic slivers, and energetic percussion. As harmonized voices repeat “Won’t let you bleed out / Can’t let you bleed out” amid a lush cacophony of reverberating feedback and thunderous percussion on “Siphon,” or when she sings “You should know I would never let you down” on “Soak” amid trickles of resonant piano and slickly minimal electronics, the slow breakbeat like an emotive march through the mire of despair, the songs are elevated to anthemic pop declarations of solidarity and empathy. And then a song like “Veka” almost slithers its way through the speakers with reversed voices and electronic noise creating a darkly ambient mood that eventually gives way to a light pulse of electronic kicks and resonant keyboard chords that finally coalesce into a strident and even brilliantly catchy track, and goddamn if the simple but striking “Witness” isn’t one of the most beautiful ballads written in modern music, the poignancy of Danilova’s words piercing with every syllable. Interludes like “Ash to Bone,” “NMO,” and especially the introductory processional “Doma” provide a brief yet still moving respite, like the ghosts of songs crashing like waves upon a beach of black sand, leaving “Half Life” to end Ovoki with the sustained pads and swells of strings coupled with her haunting high vocal range atop a thrum of bass and distant drumbeats evoking lament and loss. At once glorious and galling, uplifting yet unsettling, Ovoki arrests and enthralls with its mélange of emotional contrasts, driven by a cold ambience wherein Danilova’s voice and words shielding the listener in a tattered blanket – providing just enough warmth to persevere but damaged enough to leave scars after the ordeal… and this album is indeed a bit of an ordeal, and a very satisfying one at that.
Track list:

  1. Doma
  2. Exhumed
  3. Soak
  4. Ash to Bone
  5. Witness
  6. Siphon
  7. Veka
  8. Wiseblood
  9. NMO
  10. Remains
  11. Half Life

Zola Jesus
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Sacred Bones Records
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Storming the Base CD
Storming the Base Vinyl
Storming the Base Colored Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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