LIVE: Zola Jesus – Omeara, London 05.11.18

Zola Jesus stunned her sold out crowd at Omeara on Tuesday night as she appeared shrouded in red, delivering her flawless operatic vocals. Her performance embodied the promise she made during second song ‘Soak’ – “You should know I would never let you down” – and her rendition of the track made our gothic hearts bleed.

She took to the stage after Ah! Kosmos, who performed a stunning one-woman-show in an equally stunning sequin blazer. The Istanbul-born artist gave a masterclass in how to perform electronic music solo, and was the perfect warm up for Zola Jesus’ eager crowd.

Whilst on stage, the Sacred Bones signee said she was “chuffed” to be in “Blighty” and was happy to talk between songs about TV show Nathan Barley and the shortcomings of British Airways (who had lost her guitarist’s luggage earlier that day). Her set was laced with penetrating vocals that rang out across her hypnotised audience, and included an emotive dedication to her Uncle who recently survived a suicide attempt.

The blend of industrial and classical elements in Zola Jesus’ music translated well live, and she was accompanied by a violinist and guitarist for the duration of her set. Her tortured but tentative lyrics on ‘Skin’ and ‘Exhumed’ as well as the hypnotic, off-kilter, bouncing synths on ‘Bound’ provided fans with an eclectic mix of old and new material, and an opportunity for the performer to remove her red cloak, and break the fourth wall towards the close of her set.

Her lyrical lamentations about disconnection are made all the more powerful by her altruistic voice. Recorded, her vocals are striking enough – but to hear them live is confirmation that Zola Jesus truly has a divine set of lungs. If you weren’t there to hear her at Omeara, you missed out on a mesmerising performance from this warped and wonderful artist. A definite live highlight of 2018.

Follow Zola Jesus on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington

ALBUM: Zola Jesus – ‘Okovi: Additions’

A mixture of intriguing new electro-industrial sounds and polished remixes, Zola Jesus is set to release her new album Okovi: Additions, on 16th April via Sacred Bones. The record is a set of four previously unheard tracks and four remixes that fit together to provide an “experiential interpretation” of her 2017 critically acclaimed album, Okovi.

“These four new songs were intended to be on Okovi,” Zola Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) explains. “Each of them represents a snapshot of my journey in making the record and are just as precious to me as the songs that made it onto the final track listing. The remixes are beloved in their own way, as most were born from organic circumstances, and have drawn the original songs into completely new atmospheres.”

It’s clear from opening track ‘Vacant’ these “snapshots” are as diverse and sharp as the tracks which originally made the cut. ‘Vacant’ is laced with penetrating vocals that ring out across a demanding soundscape. It bleeds perfectly into the captivating ‘Bound’, with its hypnotic, off-kilter, heavy bouncing synths and driving percussion. Her blend of industrial and classical elements makes both tracks sound like tortured hymns.

The flickering keys on ‘Pilot Light’ briefly shift away from industrial tones, but they’re still steeped in Zola Jesus’ confident delivery. ‘Bitten Wool’ flows in the same vein, with its consuming, haunting vocals. This marks the end of the new tracks and the four remixes that follow are all intricate and altruistic to their collaborators.

Johnny Jewel’s remix of ‘Ash to Bone’ doesn’t deviate too far from the original, but his introduction of sharper beats and heavy underscoring synths resurrects Zola Jesus’ lyrical lamentations about disconnection. ‘Siphon’ is transformed by Katie Gately’s anthemic, vocal layering and Randall Dunn & Aaron Weaver’s remix of ‘Exhumed’ is both warped and wonderful.

Joanne Pollock’s subtle re-working of ‘Soak’ closes Okovi: Additions on a powerful, definitive note. As Zola Jesus promises in her lyrics: “you should know I would never let you down,” and her ability to collaborate and explore her sound with others has proved this. Whether you’re new to Zola Jesus or an avid Okovi fan, these Additions will have you hooked.

Okovi: Additions is released via Sacred Bones on April 6th 2018. Order your copy here. Follow Zola Jesus on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Laura June Kirsch

Kate Crudgington

Track Of The Day: Zola Jesus – ‘Bound’

A captivating sonic treat; singer, songwriter and producer Zola Jesus has shared ‘Bound’, the first single from her upcoming project Okovi: Additions. The new album, which is set for release on 16th April, is a set of remixes from her 2017 critically acclaimed album Okovi released via Sacred Bones Records.

‘Bound’ is one of four “experiential interpretations” on Okovi: Additions, with remixes by a diverse cast of artists spanning a spectrum of genres, including Johnny Jewel, Katie Gately, Wolves in the Throne Room and Joanne Pollock (formerly one half of Poemss with Venetian Snares’ Aaron Funk).

Listen to the powerful ‘Bound’ below and follow Zola Jesus on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order your copy of Okovi: Additions here.

Kate Crudgington