12 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Los Angeles–based darkwave artist Zola Jesus (the one-woman project of Nika Roza Danilova) creates a beautiful gloom on Conatus, her third full-length. Danilova has an opera background, but don’t expect to hear the timbres or virtuosity associated with that form. Her distinctive singing evokes a more musical Nico or a grimmer version of Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser. With its agitated synth work, the brief instrumental opener, “Swords,” serves as a good portal into Zola Jesus’ sound world. On “Ixode,” a galloping drum machine accompanies layers of wordless vocals and dramatic strings. Two tracks here, “Seekir” and “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake,” are more clearly contoured than most of the material, which often opts for a more ambient quality. The former features some of the album’s most emotionally charged vocals; the relatively spare latter track could serve as a piano ballad. Nick Johnson’s drumming drives a spooky string arrangement on “In Your Nature,” while the album closes with the beatless “Collapse,” where Danilova intones over a thick bed of droning synth and pump organ.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Los Angeles–based darkwave artist Zola Jesus (the one-woman project of Nika Roza Danilova) creates a beautiful gloom on Conatus, her third full-length. Danilova has an opera background, but don’t expect to hear the timbres or virtuosity associated with that form. Her distinctive singing evokes a more musical Nico or a grimmer version of Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser. With its agitated synth work, the brief instrumental opener, “Swords,” serves as a good portal into Zola Jesus’ sound world. On “Ixode,” a galloping drum machine accompanies layers of wordless vocals and dramatic strings. Two tracks here, “Seekir” and “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake,” are more clearly contoured than most of the material, which often opts for a more ambient quality. The former features some of the album’s most emotionally charged vocals; the relatively spare latter track could serve as a piano ballad. Nick Johnson’s drumming drives a spooky string arrangement on “In Your Nature,” while the album closes with the beatless “Collapse,” where Danilova intones over a thick bed of droning synth and pump organ.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
152 Ratings

152 Ratings

thekidb ,

a ghost ship

watch out for zola jesus...she will haunt you and take you to dark places you seldom explore...in fact, avoid...sail's up, catch the wave, and let her dynamic vocals guide you along the sea of transcendence and emerge a refreshed, progressive human being..break free...album of the year

M.R.B.K.P. ,

Reigning Queen of Grave Wave Rocks New Record!

Not unlike her more accessible Valusia EP, this full record is much more polished, produced and fully realized than her earlier, more Diamanda Galas inspired efforts. These songs are really good. Here her voice, as always, takes center stage but the songs now have more depth. The more atmospheric, slower songs are awesome but I can't help but think how great Nika (and these songs) would sound with a full organic band. With maybe even a guitar or two!! Imagine what she would sound like with a latter day Banshees type band! She is the only singer in this genre that could hold a candle to Siouxsie when she was at her best. Let's hope some of that seeps into her next record.

sickboy888 ,

Do you really want to blame the fire outside?

I love Zola Jesus, she is from my neck of the woods too so I feel like we have a connection specific to Wisconsin/Minnesota. Her dark lingering is seldom pure dark, it glistens with light and "Conatus" is by far her lightest work yet.

favrite tracks:
1. Ixode
2. Hikikomori
3. Lick the Palm of The Burning Handshake
4. Skin

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