Zola Jesus Valusia

Zola Jesus Valusia
Nika Roza Danilova (aka Zola Jesus) has closed out the year with two EPs that have been nothing short of stirring (a collaborative mini-album with LA Vampires, however, missed the mark). Releasing Stridulum in the first half of 2010, Zola Jesus demonstrated that last year's LP, The Spoils, was only presented in grainy, low-fidelity because of financial restraints. Valusia continues to display her portentous, synth-based songs in booming hi-fidelity, sounding as celestial as the sky above. The transition from one EP to the next doesn't necessarily demonstrate a certain progression; it makes sense that they were released together in Europe as Stridulum II, minus single "Power Animal." That song, in particular, with its commanding drums, cathedral-filling synths and Danilova's powerful emoting, is the best example yet that her music is hardly restricted to po' faced goths. "Tower," however, buries its head in darker circles, exploring emotional exile with a heavier industrial tint, while "Sea Talk" finds her struggling to keep a relationship going, with stabbing techno rhythms and more grandiose Disintegration orch-synth. "Lightstick" is the real standout, sounding like some Middle-Aged paean hammered out on a lone piano (not synth) with a yearning Danilova leaving us with a climax that perfectly sets up her next full-length in early 2011. (Sacred Bones)