When pursuing hopes and desires, many dream about being able to accomplish great feats. Somewhere in the world of music rides a special feeling of desire where musicians are able to connect and channel amazing works. For Zola Jesus’ Nika Roza Danilova, music has only just begun and still, her craft appears like something most noticed on a seasoned veteran. Instead she’s a young, actively-improving, dexterous musician that creates strong, electronically-tinged music. Genuine and sincere, the music on her latest album, Conatus, is a terrific escape of towering choruses and refined musicianship.
At a fresh-faced 22-years-old, Danilova’s voice is an impressive sound to behold, in it of itself. The Russian-American singer/songwriter sounds confident and assured with every note sung and channeling everyone from Kate Bush to Lykke Li, her decisive nature is singularly felt. On “Vessel” she commands attention with a lulling cadence before exponentially growing with every passing pedal tone and through careful attention to flow, the song disrupts into a massive bellow of sound. And later, on “Seekir,” Danilova injects the song with a purposeful beat that employed with stunning pop sensibilities, is practically dancefloor-ready. Still, Danilova’s voice echoes with superb vocals that showcase range and flawless craft. Even through the music’s entire thumping beat, the songs capture a heartfelt assembly of fantastic songcraft.
Previous EPs fashioned a dynamic outfit of interestingly composed sounds and textures and with Conatus Danilova has distinctively delivered an album that both touches on the spectral side of her music, while enabling pop-driven hooks that propel with fluid skill. The music invigorates through Danilova’s stellar voice and how it directs the sounds through the misty matter with explosive presence. On “Avalanche” there is a creeping revealing of church-like vocals and with pounding, relentless drums, the song soars into a crash of white noise. Her voice is both powerfully evocative and grippingly affecting; the presence is a deeply substantial one.
There’s a versatile amount of flair spread out onto Conatus’ burly shoulders and Danilova offers songs that are both personally inspired, while still presenting remarkable songwriting brilliance. A song like “Skin,” left sparse with a twinkling piano line and shivering vocal chants, is effectively rendered through its bare exposure – like wearing nothing but the skin on your bones – and Danilova’s voice. There’s a rousing attention to spectral touches on Conatus and the music ends up feeling far more entrenched because of it. Whether it’s the opening strands of life with “Swords,” or “Hikikomori” and its stabbing synthesizers and wall of sound, Danilova fills the chambers of her music with tremendous aesthetics.
One can never be sure about what one’s intentions surely are but with artists that continue to improve and progress, there is no denying the intensive music Zola Jesus creates is definitely worthy. Danilova is a musician that sounds years ahead of her time and yet, she’s embracing all of her influences in crafting music that is exceptionally demonstrated. Conatus continues her roll with more astounding music that sounds better with each listen and during this day and age, what more could you ask for in an album?