Classic Zola Jesus is back. It’s clear from the first few seconds of her new song “Exhumed,” with its brisk orchestration, thickly blanketing bass, and ticking industrial beetle-scuttles. Nika Rosa Danilova’s last album Taiga tidied up the fierce immediacy of her early music into more polished textures, but there’s a more elemental and raw sense to “Exhumed,” the first taste of her sixth album Okovi. Danilova moved back to the Wisconsin forests where she grew up to record the project, and nature's primal instincts are scattered all over it.
When I talk about “classic Zola Jesus,” I mean her tightly-wound 2011 album Conatus, and its preceding drama-fuelled synth EP Stridulum II — which took its title from a 1979 Italian horror flick, and riffed on the video nasty theme in “Sea Talk.” While her videos over the past few years went the hi-def way of her music, the above visual for "Exhumed" makes a return to this style: Danilova’s masked image is cut up and distorted by random pixel patterns, just like the old days. Among urgent, choppy strings, her voice rings out: “In the static you are reborn."
Okovi is out September 8 on Sacred Bones.
Thumbnail image by Tim Saccenti.