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ZOLA JESUS

Zola Jesus

Arkhon

    There is a way a voice can cut through the fascia of reality, cleaving through habit into the raw nerve of experience. Nika Roza Danilova, the singer, songwriter, and producer who since 2009 has released music as Zola Jesus, wields a voice that does that. When you hear it, it is like you are being summoned to a place that’s already wrapped inside you but obscured from conscious experience. This place has been buried because it tends to hold pain, but it’s also a gift, because once it’s opened, once you’re inside of it, it can show you the truth. Zola Jesus’s new album, Arkhon, finds new ways of loosing this submerged, stalled pain.

    On previous albums, Danilova had largely played the role of auteur, meticulously crafting every aspect of Zola Jesus’s sound and look. This time, she realized that her habitual need for control was sealing her out of her art. Arkhon sees Zola Jesus’s first collaboration with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Mandy soundtrack, Candyman soundtrack) and with drummer and percussionist Matt Chamberlain, whose prior work appears on albums by Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie. Arkhon runs the spectrum from songs whose weight lies in their bare simplicity, like “Desire,” an elegiac piano composition about the end of a relationship that was recorded acoustically in a single take, to towering, groove-oriented tracks like “The Fall” and the tight, interlocking percussion and samples of a Slovenian folk choir in “Lost,” which propel narratives of collective despair and mutual comfort in kind. Through these turns, Arkhon reveals itself as an album whose power derives from abandon. Both its turmoils and its pleasures take root in the body, letting individual consciousness dissolve into the thick of the beat.

    Despite the darkness curled inside reality, there is power, too, in surrendering to what can’t be pinned down, to the wild unfurling of the world in all its unforeseeable motion. That letting go is the crux of Arkhon, which marks a new way of moving and making for Zola Jesus.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Zola Jesus' music has always been uncompromising, and had a distinct identity all of it's own, but on 'Arkhon', Danilova mixes her distinctive compositional style with a number of collaborators, resulting in a fractured, visceral hybrid of modern industrial music and abstracted synth-pop.

    TRACK LISTING

    1 Lost
    2 The Fall
    3 Undertow
    4 Into The Wild
    5 Dead And Gone
    6 Sewn
    7 Desire
    8 Fault
    9 Efemra
    10 Do That Anymore 

    Zola Jesus

    Okovi (15 Year Anniversary Clear And Black Splatter)

      For over a decade, Nika Roza Danilova has been recording music as Zola Jesus. She’s been on Sacred Bones Records for most of that time, and Okovi marks her reunion with the label.

      Fittingly, the 11 electronics-driven songs on Okovi share musical DNA with her early work on Sacred Bones. The music was written in pure catharsis, and as a result, the sonics are heavy, dark, and exploratory. In addition to the contributions of Danilova’s longtime live bandmate Alex DeGroot, producer/musician WIFE, cellist/noise-maker Shannon Kennedy from Pedestrian Deposit, and percussionist Ted Byrnes all helped build Okovi’s textural universe.

      With Okovi, Zola Jesus has crafted a profound meditation on loss and reconciliation that stands tall alongside the major works of its genre. The album speaks of tragedy with great wisdom and clarity. Its songs plumb dark depths, but they reflect light as well.


      TRACK LISTING

      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 

      For over a decade, Nika Roza Danilova has been recording music as Zola Jesus. She’s been on Sacred Bones Records for most of that time, and Okovi marks her reunion with the label.

      Fittingly, the 11 electronics-driven songs on Okovi share musical DNA with her early work on Sacred Bones. The music was written in pure catharsis, and as a result, the sonics are heavy, dark, and exploratory. In addition to the contributions of Danilova’s longtime live bandmate Alex DeGroot, producer/musician WIFE, cellist/noise-maker Shannon Kennedy from Pedestrian Deposit, and percussionist Ted Byrnes all helped build Okovi’s textural universe.

      With Okovi, Zola Jesus has crafted a profound meditation on loss and reconciliation that stands tall alongside the major works of its genre. The album peaks of tragedy with great wisdom and clarity. Its songs plumb dark depths, but they reflect light as well.

      ARTIST STATEMENT:

      Last year, I moved back to the woods in Wisconsin where I was raised. I built a little house just steps away from where my dilapidated childhood tree fort is slowly recombining into earth. Okovi was fed by this return to roots and several very personal traumas.

      While writing Okovi, I endured people very close to me trying to die, and others trying desperately not to. Meanwhile, I was fighting through a haze so thick I wasn’t sure I’d find my way to the other side. Death, in all of its masks, has been encircling everyone I love, and with it the questions of legacy, worth, and will.

      Okovi is a Slavic word for shackles. We’re all shackled to something—to life, to death, to bodies, to minds, to illness, to people, to birthright, to duty. Each of us born with a unique debt, and we have until we die to pay it back. Without this cost, what gives us the right to live? And moreover, what gives us the right to die? Are we really even free to choose?

      This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature. To bring it to life, I decided to enlist the help of Alex DeGroot, who has been the only constant in my live band and helped mix the Stridulum EP back in 2010. It will be released on Sacred Bones, the closest group of people I’ll ever have to blood-bound family.

      TRACK LISTING

      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

      Stridulum - Reissue

      “Seven yers ago, it was winter break at university in Madison, Wisconsin. There was a snowstorm that covered the city with a still white haze. Not a single person in the streets. I was sitting on my bed with a cheap keyboard and a computer, screaming into the void. I barely remember writing the songs. It was a chaotic point in my life. I had no time to think about process or intent. It was a purge. I do remember taking a break from recording, bundling up, and walking through the barren streets while listening to the demos I’d made. The world, at once, felt clear. After writing and producing what would become the Stridulum EP, I contacted a new friend, Alex DeGroot, to come over and record my vocals. He was studying audio engineering and had more knowledge and gear than I could dream of. He helped mix Stridulum, too, because all I had was a pair of headphones. (Since then, Alex has stuck by me, as a live bandmate, technical director, co-producer, mixer, and engineer.) These songs were a huge leap of faith back then. It was my first time singing without layers of distortion, echo, and reverb. It was the first time I peeled back the layers to find out what was at the core. I’m still on that path today, seeing how far I can push myself into unknown places, whether through clarification or destruction. It’s like Stridulum’s still here with me, underneath it all. Still, it’s surreal to think that this record, made by a 19-year-old girl sitting on a bed in a freezing old house in Madison, would make its way into strangers’ ears seven years later.”

      -Nika Roza Danilova, June 2017

      Collects the early Zola Jesus EPs Stridulum and Valusia in a single volume for the first time.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Night (3:37)
      2. Trust Me (2:01)
      3. I Can’t Stand (4:10)
      4. Stridulum (4:22)
      5. Run Me Out (3:19)
      6. Manifest Destiny (3:16)
      7. Poor Animal (4:27)
      8. Tower (3:58)

      Nika, the 25-year-old behind Zola Jesus’ creative incarnations, is a singer, sole songwriter and producer.

      Written on Vashon Island, WA and mixed in Los Angeles, CA by Dean Hurley, ‘Taiga’ follows the widely celebrated albums ‘Versions’ (2013) and ‘Conatus’ (2011). This is Nika’s fourth fulllength album release.

      In regards to the album title, Nika explains, “Taiga is the Russian name for the boreal forest. For me it feels very alive… very expansive. It represents a feral, untapped world that could happily exist without us. There are taiga forests in Northern Wisconsin where I was raised, and also in Russia where my ancestors are from, so it also feels very native.”

      Liberated in the present and connected to the past, this album is a transition for Zola Jesus. Masterful layers of composition are bathed in familiar atmospheric vocals but a new sensibility is deeply present.

      ‘Taiga’ is at once challenging and accessible and is undeniably branded with what Nika terms a “piercing ambition.” Such encompassing purpose, she explains, would be impossible without a newfound sense of artistic self. The album is a declaration of that purpose; one faced with jarring clarity in both its content and production. Nika summates, “For me, it feels like my true debut, because it is the first time I have felt so open and liberated.”

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Taiga
      2. Dangerous Days
      3. Dust
      4. Hunger
      5. Go (Blank Sea)
      6. Ego
      7. Lawless
      8. Nail
      9. Long Way Down
      10. Hollow
      11. It's Not Over


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