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zolajesus arkhon
Artist: Zola Jesus
Title: Arkhon
Genre: Alternative / Gothic / Ethereal
Release Date: 24th June 2022
Label: Cargo Records


Album Review

After five studio albums, a bit of troublesome writer’s block might not seem such a big deal. But for Nika Roza Danilova - ZOLA JESUS - it was devastating, as she had always single-handedly managed her musical journey and direction, her stage persona, the visuals, everything that swooshed and swirled together to make her such an intriguing and compelling individual and performer. So, a rethink, a reshuffle, and a relaxing in the collaboration department, and out pops ‘Arkhon’, an album that presumably is extremely happy to see the light of day.

Interesting then, that ‘Lost’ sounds every bit the panic attack. Staccato breathing punctuates the dark and beautiful claustrophobia, a melody both melancholy and joyful, layered and celestial at times, caught up in a tumble of dreamlike slow-motion running. It’s an extraordinary song, in every way. ‘The Fall’ is less surreal, but no less beautiful, shimmering and simmering into a huge chorus that soars off elsewhere and doesn’t want to return. ‘Undertow’, rather topically, could be KATE BUSH at her creative and unshackled best - it meanders about fearlessly but always with a purpose and a focus, and ‘Into The Wild’ suddenly reminds you of what a superb voice is behind the whole ZOLA JESUS project. Whereas earlier albums often concentrated on the whole, and the voice as merely a part of that, here the vocals become a thing of absolute beauty, becoming the song, not supporting it.

‘Dead And Gone’ will have you in tears, and if it doesn’t, you’re in the wrong place. ‘Sewn’ bulldozes you with repetition, ‘Desire’ melts you back down with simple piano and voice, and ‘Fault’ perhaps just a touch too light, musically, compared to most of what’s on offer on ‘Arkhon’. Having said that, there’s a bizarre middle section that’s stunningly good, and gives everything a creative kick up the arse, and by the end we’re soaring off into the beautiful unknown again. ‘Efemra’, after the sharp intakes of breath that open the album, sounds clear and fresh and revitalised, mountain-top alive and simplified into clarity. And the wildly joyful spiralling of closer ‘Do That Anymore’ completes the transformation into something celebratory, almost tribal, a universal language made up entirely of crying, laughing, and music.

That writer’s block and a period of panic and introspection can produce a body of work as fascinating, unbound, and absolutely precious as this, shows a depth of talent and strength that will always find a way to shine, and on ‘Arkhon’ it dazzles.


Tracklist

01. Lost
02. The Fall
03. Undertow
04. Into The Wild
05. Dead And Gone
06. Sewn
07. Desire
08. Fault
09. Efemra
10. Do That Anymore


Line-up

Nika Roza Danilova – Vocals
Matt Chamberlain – Drums / Percussion
Randall Dunn – Production


Website

www.zolajesus.com / https://www.facebook.com/ZOLAJESUS


Cover Picture

zolajesus arkhon


Rating

Music: 9
Sound:9
Total: 9 / 10




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