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.
In Your Nature
Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake
Days Grow Older (Bonus Track)
12 SONGS, 44 MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 26, 2011
℗ 2011 ZOLA JESUS UNDER EXCLUSIVE LICENSE TO SACRED BONES RECORDS