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On the heels of her "Conatus" world tour, Nika Roza Danilova was offered an opportunity to perform at one of the most prestigious modern art museums in the world, NY's Guggenheim. Rather than doing her standard Zola Jesus electronic set she decided she wanted to work with a classical composer who could arrange her songs for a quartet. She recruited legendary industrial pioneer JG Thirlwell (Foetus) to do the arrangements. Since his work as Foetus in the early 80's New York no-wave scene, JG has been scoring and composing symphonic arrangements for his own project Manoerxia, in addition to currently scoring Adult Swim's Venture Brothers series. If there is a common thread to Thirlwell's varied musical styles, it is dramatic intensity and evocative, cinematic quality. Thirlwell's oeuvre runs the gamut from orchestrations, big band, and cathartic noise-rock to abstract electronics, sound sculpture, and chamber music, thus making him the perfect collaborator to help realize Danilova's vision. Danilova explains her intentions with this album, 'Versions is about the bone of the music; taking approximations from past records and turning them inside out. With all framework exposed, the songs are given a new medium in which to evolve and bloom into their own tiny worlds.' The show went over amazingly well with the Village Voice proclaiming that Zola Jesus 'conquered the Guggenheim' and eMusic writing, 'Nika Roza Danilova's performance was not confined by the normal genres and subgenres we affix to music, it was truly art.' Removing the bulk of electronics from these songs gives them the space to breath, thusly opening them up to be received by a much wider audience who perhaps don't normally venture into the techno-pop/ industrial arena. Look for select Zola Jesus dates this fall with JG and quartet in Berlin, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Seattle, New York and Paris, including a stop at Asheville's Mountain Oasis Festival.
Top Customer Reviews
Jim Foetus plays a backing role with the music playing the conductor to the strings as Zola Jesus intones on top. I found it all non stimulating. I will play it again to see if any magic appears, but.....
about Zola Jesus, High Priestess Of Shadows, along comes this
collaboration with J G Thirwell and The Mivos Quartet. 'Versions'
presents us with some revealing and exciting new transcriptions
of Nika Roza Danilova's past sonic inventions and what it shows us
beyond all else is what a remarkably good voice she has when stripped
of the stark electronic bombast and vocal distortions to which we have
become accustomed in the dark territories which are her usual domain.
Jump straight to the new take on 'Night' from the 2010 album 'Stridulum II'
for an uplifting glimpse of just how soulful Ms Danilova can be when she
is released from the constraints of her basic-black Gothic script. So
too with the glorious re-imagining of 'Avalanche' from 2011's 'Conatus'!
Out with the quasi-Siouxsie Sioux antics - in with a heartfelt performance of
great warmth and clarity framed by a wonderfully luminous string arrangement.
Elsewhere, 'Hikikomori' springs light-footed and fancy free into bright new
life and the simply beautiful final track 'Collapse' proves beyond doubt that
Ms Danilova is both a writer and singer of idiosyncratically remarkable caliber.
If you have the earlier recordings don't let that stop you hearing these too.
"Versions" (10 tracks; 41 min. ) was recorded at the tail end of her tour in support of "Conatus". The Guggenheim Museum in New York approached her to perform, and Danilova chose to radically reinvent the arrangements of her catalog by bringing in the Mivos Quartet. The result is this album, which stands in contrast to her earlier albums, not only because the outright classical nature of the album, but also as it spotlights Danilova's voice and lyrics more than ever before, check out the opener "Avalanche (Slow)", one of six tracks on here which first appeared on "Conatus". It is followed by "Fall Back", a brand new song, in which she croons "In the dark/I feel you around me/In this clouded mess/You surround me", wow. The only track that ventures out from the strict "chamber music" format is the album's closer "Vessel", which rocks more or less. In all this is quite the album. To be clear: if you don't like classical (chamber) music, do yourself a favor and stay away from this. I found this album to be quite the eye-opener, and heard Zola Jesus in a way I had never heard her before.
I had the good fortune of seeing Zola Jesus in concert here in Cincinnati in early 2012 when she was touring in support of "Conatus", and what an incredible show that was. Backed by a keyboard player, an electronic viola player and a percussionist, Danilova put on a fabulous show, being a woman possessed it seemed. Great, great show. Meanwhile, for something very different yet equally intriguing, I readily recommend "Versions" to you.
Whether a fan of previous work or new to this artist, I'd say Versions is well worth your time; this classical/pop infusion may well be my favourite album from Zola Jesus yet and I hope to see more of this side of her talent in the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Listening to this album at the moment. Good vocals and overall very enjoyable. I think its much better than Spoils.Published 13 months ago by Dela
Needless to say Nika delivers another masterpiece. However ensure you get the 2 disc limited version featuring the live performance on DVD as this perfectly compliments the audio.Published 22 months ago by David