Stridulum II CD
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For her latest set – actually her US EP Striulum with three bonus tracks tagged on for the European market – classically-trained gothic chanteuse Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus, has thrown back the veils of feral scuzz and grime that swamped many of her earlier recordings, a corollary of her love for early industrial music and power electronics. Tracks like album opener and single, Night, benefit from this paradigmatic shift, resounding with an anthemic clarity and accessibility unrecognisable from her prior contributions to a split with fellow Wisconsin operative, “horror electronics” cancer Burial Hex.
Over dark wave synth sweeps that owe everything to the 80s and a martial bass drum throb that’d make These New Puritans proud, Danilova intones in a spooked-up siren call equal parts Siouxsie Sioux (an undoubted influence) and Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser. It’s as if Florence Welch was hooked up to a totally different Machine, turbo-charged by Cold Cave’s hipster gloom, spewing faux miserablism for kids not yet saturated on a diet of vampire celluloid and zombie pulp.
There’s no denying the potency and inherent potential in Danilova’s voice, whether she’s deadpanning malevolent moods, wallowing up a banshee-wail of tender loneliness or breathing spectral whispers over minimalist passages of pensive melodrama. But, without the wizard’s curtain of feverish fuzz to hide behind, her compositions can appear vulnerable, hollow and frail. Too often the same cheap sonic and lyrical slogans are rolled out; tweaked and served up as fresh offerings.
Stridulum II also demonstrates the perils of revisiting the past, especially if, as is undoubtedly the case with Danilova, you were too young to live through it first time round. To gaze back through narrowly-focused and rose-tinted specs is to ignore the untold aesthetic horrors, with all their connotations, of the 80s, a decade distinguished by its harbouring of gratuitous self-interest and an ugly wardrobe. Some of the pieces here, such as the penultimate Sea Talk, could’ve been lifted from some turgid Top Gun-type blockbuster, and those are memories better left buried.--Spencer Grady
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Top Customer Reviews
'Stridulum II' is a very nice little nightmare.
She possesses a strong voice which runs the full
gamut of colours from grey through to black.
The nine pieces in this collection combine big
echoing back-beats and dense washes of atmospheric
synth chords as a framework for her tortured vocal
performances. Truth-be-told there is very little
variation in the design and dynamics of her vocal lines
but this seems to occur more by design than chance.
It's moody old stuff from top to tail but for those
of us with an appetite for the dark side there is
much to engage our attention and imagination. I was
particularly drawn to a wonderfully maudlin number
entitled 'Run Me Out'. The reverberating four-note
drone throbs along menacingly giving Ms Jesus a splendid
opportunity to fully indulge her dystopian muse.
'Tower' is another jolly slice of Gothic turbulence.
There's a slow blues chugging away just below the surface
but the deadpan vocal delivery ensures that it never quite
bursts out of its bonds to enjoy a moment or two in the sun!
Crikey! 'Sea Talk' has a melody which (with a little
practice) you could almost sing along to. For one
uncanny moment an image came into my mind's eye of
Ms Jesus sporting an enormous beehive hairdo! (The spirit
of Phil Spector may well have been smiling in the wings).
If Diamanda Galas and Bono had spawned a love child the
product of that unlikely union might well have sounded a
bit like our heroine on 'I Can't Stand'. Epic melancholia.Read more ›
Tantilising, striking, neo-goth vocal dramatics and waves of heavy textures this is masterful and just right at 9 tracks short. Don't the best records make their point more quickly? I hope that it will be bettered in a follow up only because it doesn't quite feel like the masterpiece that the above artists have achieved. A slight notch up in the tune and hook quality and not masking them with too many ethereal noises is the key. Maybe i'm being picky.
Either way this SOUNDS (expletive) great. A revolt against money churning and insipid pop/soul divas. Zola Jesus could yet be one of the most acclaimed artists of this decade. Already being in the know I don't give one!
The introduction to the album is the track 'Night' which, despite the title, is probably one of the lighter tracks of the album. One which you can get lost in but still feel like there's a guiding partner next to you. Anyone who wishes to experience a different side to the album should listen to "Sea Talk" which feels like a conversation between the "instruments" and "Zola".
Definitely worth the purchase - particularly for the dark winter mornings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this mainly for one track 'Night' and I am happy with that....the other tracks are ok and I have played it a couple of times... Read morePublished on 23 April 2011 by D. L. Carroll
The first time it sounds very new, interesting and attractive but I got used to her voice and style very soon. Worth having thoughPublished on 26 Oct. 2010 by Flock17