ZOLA JESUS: Lost

That feeling when one of the singers you adore so much comes back with new music; there’s truly nothing quite like it. The first time I heard Zola Jesus, was actually the song she did as Nika + Rory. The song was I’m Not Going Anywhere. I played it almost religiously. I then heard Nika’s work as Zola Jesus when brought out The Spoils, and that was it. My obsession was blooming and I didn’t want it any other way.

There are a few bands/singers that just stick with you, and the any announcement of new music from them just immediately hits you right in the heart and you feel alive again. Since 2009 I’ve had this admiration and love for Nika and all she creates. I cannot think of anyone else who does what she does, who makes the sounds she does, who has a mind like hers. She’s the only one, and let’s be honest- there won’t ever be anyone else like her ever again. Her voice is so haunting and so comforting. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve bawled my eyes out to some of her songs, but my god there are songs that just give you this euphoric feeling and nothing can come close to it.

Lost is the new single, and is taken from Nika’s new record Arkhon which is out 20th May via one of the best labels ever- Sacred Bones. If you’re a fan of Nika/Zola Jesus, you know exactly what to expect but at the same time you are ready to be thrown into the deep unknown. Lost is such a beautiful and open song, and so easy to connect with. We all feel lost. Some of us feel it more than others, some of us are just constantly lost. For some, it may be all we know. But it’s a feeling that so many can connect with; and the way Nika writes about it here is just divine and right to the core.

The percussion, the sound of breathing (at the start- I think) it’s got this reassuring feel to it. The start sounds like a panic attack coming on (something I know far too well) but then everything calms down, and you are centred. Everything is okay, and you feel reassured again. There’s something about that chaotic feeling of being lost that allows you to just go at your own pace and eventually find what you need. I think that’s something we probably need to cling on to more than we care to admit.

The video for Lost is stunning. It will leave you breathless and just in awe of this magnificent creation. It sums up the feel of the song so well, and it is shot in the most gorgeous way imaginable. I don’t want to write too much about the video; I want you to take some time out of your day to watch the video. Maybe a couple of times in a row, and just take it all in. The song is a masterpiece and if the whole record has this feel to it, then I think we may have found the most beautifully put together record of the year.

Zola Jesus- Vessel (video.)

Nika amazes me. Every album, every video, every song just totally blows me away.  Her voice is one of the most stunning voices around. Her sound is so distinctive and powerful. It shakes your soul and wakes up that part of you that yo allowed to become quiet and untouched for so long.

Vessel is the first single to be taken from her latest album, Conatus. If you don’t own it- the hell are you playing at? One of the best albums of they year, easily. A lot of artists go with having a dark vibe to their music in order to seem “cool” or something daft. Thing is, it’s a natural thing. Having a dark sound is natural, you cannot force it. Real recognises real. The true Zola Jesus fans are the ones who believe in the power of her music and know that it is all natural. When you have such a natural approach to your work, you become believable. You become something to invest in.

The video is stunning. The imagery is just perfect, it fits the song completely. Nika doesn’t have to do over the top videos nor does she have to be overproduced to be popular. You can tell she doesn’t care for fitting in- THAT is what makes her easy to relate to. You see, you have artists such as Gaga who bang on and on about “EMBRACE BEING A FREAK!” Fuck that, for serious, just fuck that. Just be who you are, you don’t need to always be the centre of attention to be loved. You don’t have to turn it into a self-absorbed show and demand attention. That doesn’t make you real. You’re just masking it. That’s why I love Nika, she just makes music for her and doesn’t demand attention. Yes she’s different- but we all are. She doesn’t need to go on about it. She has a human touch to her music that many seem to lack.

The video is artistic and dark; but not in a pretentious way nor does it seem like she’s trying too hard. It’s just perfect, she’s perfect.

Zola Jesus-Conatus.

My love for Zola Jesus is on the same level as my love for Morrissey and Velvet Underground. It’s that grand. You know when you hear an album and you think, “There’s no way they can actually make anything as beautiful as this.” I thought that about Zola Jesus. Could she make anything as moving and ethereal as Stridulum II? Could it take over your soul in such a way? The answer is, thankfully, YES. She’s gone and bloody done it.

When I first heard The Spoils and her work with LA Vampires, I knew I had found a singer that I would just adore forever (if forever was to exist) and that I could relate to every word sung. Then I heard Stridulum II and nearly gave myself third degree burns. I bought the album and played it whilst cooking. Not a wise move. All my attention was on the music, and as a result- I nearly burnt my arm. It’s actually typical behaviour from me- music gets all my attention, not else much does.

So, let’s get into Conatus shall we?

The album opens up with an instrumental track. It has a clanking sound which makes you think of all the cogs turning in your mind just waiting for something to happen. It is going to happen; it’s going to happen as you listen to this record.

When I heard Vessel, I had to keep playing it over and over. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted her album straight away, but hey- good things come to those who wait. The wait is over, and this glorious work of art is finally here.

One song that I immediately grew attached to within first listen is Ixode. Ixodes are a genus of ticks- no idea if this is what Nika had in mind when she made this track, but hey. I love the song because it is virtually an instrumental that has this grand build up to it that just shoots through your soul, you feel so untouchable. That’s why I love her music so much. Regardless how good or bad you feel; Nika makes music that makes you feel untouchable, and sometimes as people, we need that feeling.

Seekir is about doing something wrong, and you know it is wrong- but you do it anyway. Seems like a fitting song for me. It’s just so perfect. Listen, if you feel like life is being unkind to you recently and that the Universe is not dealing you a fair hand, please listen to this album. I know we all go through some bad stuff, and we use different things to just get by- but please, listen to this record. It’ll do something to your mind, body and soul which will cause you to carry on.

In Your Nature is wondrous, I listen to it and just feel like nothing matters. In the grand scheme of things, I guess nothing does. “If it’s in your nature, you will never win.” I constantly feel like this, that I’ll never win/get what I want, and to hear this just makes me realise you know what, maybe this is how it has to be, you know? Try to change, but what for? No one is going to pat you on the back for being good.

Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake is probably the least tense track on the album, it is entirely stripped back and this adds an essence of vulnerability to it. I know you get that feeling a lot from her music, but this track just oozes it. I have no idea if that’s what Nika intended but that’s what I take from this track. It is powerful and beautiful.

Shivers makes me want to pack all my stuff up and leave everything here behind. I feel that a lot, so obviously I don’t need a song to make me feel like that, but this song just adds something to it. It leaves you feeling less alone. This album does have quite a desolate feel to it, but at the same time it really does comfort you. A lot label her music as Gothic, that’s fine and all- but it is so much more than that. It is so pure and tranquil. You must remember that she is only 21 years old. Skin amazes me; I love how she makes you want to escape who you are and become all you want to be- rather than what people make you out to be. People do that a lot don’t they, they make you out to be something you’re not all the time. Sometimes you just want to yell at them that, who they think you are, is not who you are. You are so much more, but you cannot show them because they don’t believe in you. I get that a lot. Skin is a comfort blanket, the way she sings “I’ve had enough.” Well it just proves that these are the most powerful three words one could ever hear. Skin is most definitely going on repeat for a while. It makes you want to close your eyes and shut off the world. We all need to do that sometimes, just let something take you some place else.

The album ends with Collapse which will more than likely leave you feeling the same way Skin did. A fragile lump of bones just waiting to go towards something better. It has such innocence and honesty to it, “It hurts to let you in.” Nika has this genius way of wording these feelings in such a simple way, but at the same time just leaves you in utter awe of how she does it. She does it without using grand words or creating unnecessary pretentious imagery. The way she makes the music sound as delicate as her words is so wonderful, and not many can do it in the way she does- and thankfully so. It makes you treasure her even more than you already did.

What I love about Nika is what she makes me feel when I listen to her music. I love the bands I love for certain reasons. My reasons for loving Nika’s music are that it takes me to a place in my mind I probably try to shut off most of the time. It exposes my mind and soul to all I should fear, but when I hear her music- I feel it, and I am immediately rid of this fear. That is how powerful it is. I write personally, and I know it isn’t what you want to hear. You want to hear if this album is any good or not, well the fact that it can move me and make me write like this proves that it is undoubtedly a masterpiece and one of the best albums to have come out this year. Her music is just stunning and perfect. Her voice is so distinctive and enthralling. Something takes over you when you listen to her music, don’t fight it. Go with it, always. Just go with it.

Zola Jesus-Seekir.

Another track from Zola Jesus’ new album, Conatus has emerged today. Obviously it’s amazing. What I love about Nika is that she creates music that sounds like nothing else. She’s only 21 years old and she’s making better music than those that have years on her. Her dark sound is so atmospheric and at times, wonderfully chaotic. Extremely tense and perfect to lose yourself in. Her music makes your soul come alive, it just takes over parts of you that you hadn’t let alone else get to. A lot may insist that her sound is “Gothic.” Well you can call it that, I just call it beautiful because that’s what it is.

If the album has the same feel as Seekir and Vessel, it is evidently going to be one of the greatest albums of 2011.

Zola Jesus.

Around 2 years ago, a singer was brought to my attention. With most music I listen to- I discovered her music by accident at some unholy hour due to having an awful sleep pattern. By awful, I mean I don’t sleep. I should probably ease off the daytime naps I suppose.

Anyway, the voice in question is Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus. She’s only 22 years old, and when you listen to her music you cannot believe how young she is. I feel like her mum saying this- I’m only 3 years older!

I love her music so much because it is so dark, atmospheric and extremely intense. These are things that I look for in an artist. I love anything dark and intense, explains a lot- I know, I know.

I remember when I purchased Stridulum II; I came home and played it whilst cooking. I was so close to burning myself as I was giving all my attention to the music. I was utterly enthralled in the sounds I was being exposed to. I hadn’t heard anything like this in such a long time. I had heard her previous work, but this album really got me. There is something about it that just grips you and posses you like some kind of beast. Yet you cannot run from it. Her music is like being chased through a desolate forest in the rain- it’s terrifying but you don’t want it stop. I mean, obviously I’d hate to be chased through a forest. I’d probably trip up within seconds and head-butt a tree. Classy, I know.

Her music has such a dark vibe, and with some artists it’s can be quite exhausting to hear. Not with Nika. Her voice has an operatic tone mixed with darkness, it is truly wonderful.

Night is one of my favourites. It is like a comfort blanket. There are quite a few times where I’ve felt pretty shite and I’ve played her album- and all seems okay again. So, just because there’s an intense sound, it doesn’t mean her music will drag you down. Oh so far from it. Her voice will make you feel about 60 feet tall. Her music will make you feel like you can do anything and face anything. It’s so comforting. The ambience on Run Me Out is extremely saddening. You can feel just how frustrated she is- but there is this one person just exhausting her. “You know that I’m tired, you know that I’m ill.” It’s quite painful to hear this. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt emotionally exhausted yet this one person continues to take and take from you- they just run you out of emotions.

Trust Me is another that feels like a comfort blanket. When you listen to it, it feels like a wave of reassurance coming over you. It is that powerful. It is that precious.

In interviews, she has stated she likes to listen to artists that stand out. She surely does that herself. Her voice, for her age, is extremely powerful and it just captures you. It holds you in a grip. When you listen to her, you cannot help but think “Where have you been all my life?” Her music makes you want to listen to nobody else but her ever again. I’ve spent weeks previously just listening to her music, and only hers. After hearing her music you cannot accept that anything else will be as amazing as hers. It’s like being caught in such a wonderful moment that you know nothing and no one will ever replace.

Yes her music is the kind you’ll never hear in a nightclub or in Asda as you do your weekly shop. It’s not the kind of music you play whilst getting ready to go out with mates. The only way you can truly capture the intensity of the music is by dimming the lights and listening to her on your own. There’s no other way. sheer silence and solitude is the only way you can fully appreciate her music. No interruptions. Just you and her music.

Her highly anticipated (especially by me) third album is out in the UK in September. I am holding out for a tour. I can imagine her live shows to be the most euphoric and intense experience ever. I’d imagine leaving one of her gigs feeling that a lost part of me had been found. I cannot explain it. It’s just, when a piece of music means that much to you and you witness it in a live environment- it means more. It does something to your soul and causes your heart to beat double time. That’s what live music does for me most of the time. Certain artists in particular have done this to me. I imagine Zola Jesus would do this to me.

I must add before I wrap this up, that you listen to her music with LA Vampires and as the act Nika + Rory. It is just as atmospheric and haunting. If she is creating music as amazing as this now- in ten years time, I can only hope she’ll be regarded in the same light as those such as Bjork and PJ Harvey.

I’m fully aware I sound like a mental obsessive fan, but it pains me that artists such as Zola Jesus are overlooked yet certain ones are rammed into our ears and we are forced to “enjoy” them and buy their music. No thanks. You stick to your meaningless, empty sounds- and I’ll stick to my intense, meaningful music.

Hopefully this year will put Zola Jesus where she rightfully deserves to be, or maybe yet again people will ignore this absolutely beautiful human being with voice of an angel. Who knows. All I know, is come September I will be in the possession of one of the best albums of this year.