Zola Jesus - Okovi

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Zola Jesus - Exhumed


When we last heard from Nika Roza Danilova, the music she was making as Zola Jesus was defined by its newfound confidence. “All my music up until now has been bathed in vulnerability, doubt, maybe sadness. I just didn’t want that anymore,” Danilova told Pitchfork in 2014. “I want to feel excited and I want to empower people.” In the years following that interview, Danilova was forced to grapple with death, loss, and “several very personal traumas.” They leave an indelible mark on “Exhumed,” the thundering lead single from her new album, Okovi.

Danilova’s discography is remarkable for its restlessness. The rusty, noise-caked ballads that stood out on her earliest releases were scrubbed and upscaled on EPs like Stridulum and Valusia before receiving a touch of classical grace on Versions. Her last album, Taiga, wasn’t an unqualified success, but it still represented a step forward thanks to Danilova’s poppy vocal melodies and luminous production. “Exhumed” is the first song she’s made that weaves all of those sounds and approaches into one singularly uneasy ripper with martial strings, stately howling, and beats that start spitting and corroding. The product sounds like Yeezus crossed with Evanescence, a combination that sounds befuddling until you press “play.” No listener worth having would wish Danilova pain, but her journey through personal hell has yielded the most powerful music of her career.



  • dontdiedontkillanyondontdiedontkillanyon Show me some love, you losers. Posts: 9,566 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Zola Jesus - Okovi


    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.


    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.

    releases September 8, 2017

  • dontdiedontkillanyondontdiedontkillanyon Show me some love, you losers. Posts: 9,566 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Zola Jesus – “Soak”

    While Zola Jesus’ last album saw the noise-goth queen stepping into the light, the upcoming Okovi is shaping up to be something much darker. Lead single “Exhumed” was beautifully punishing, but new song “Soak” is just beautiful — a shadowy, operatic ballad sung from the perspective of a serial killer’s victim and tinged with more than a little industrial menace. Listen below.

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