Zola Jesus – Arkhon review

The pandemic stresses of the last few years have prompted most artists to reframe their ways of working, but in the main that’s caused them to retreat inwards, stuck in home studios and getting trapped in the circular thought patterns that solitude brought.

For Nika Roza Danilova however that kind of self determination was the guiding principle through which the work as Zola Jesus has been produced ever since her 2009 debut The Spoils. More recently however came a bout of severe writer’s block which for the first time persuaded the classically trained singer to collaborate with Sunn o))) producer Randall Dunn and drummer Matt Chamberlain.  

What transpires on Arkhon is a record that at times struggles under it’s conceptual weight – the album’s title for instance references the ancient Greek idea of power wielded by the unworthy – but still has moments to admire. At it’s rawest on the achingly beautiful piano ballad Desire, it employs a Slovenian folk choir to chilling effect on the opener Lost, but the real suprise is Undertow, a layered and atmospheric tilt at Scandi pop, seemingly proof that giving without sacrificing independence is possible.

You can read the full review here.

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