Thursday, October 6, 2011
Album Review: Zola Jesus - Conatus
Conatus is the third full length release from American singer/songwriter Zola Jesus. Now I've been a fan of her stuff for about a year, I first got a taste of what she had to offer on the EP Valusia which was amazing, I was immediately drawn to her voice and what intrigued me further was the strong electronic influence. Since then I checked out Stridulum EP which I also enjoyed, not as much as Valusia but it definitely increased my enjoyment for this artist.
The album starts with the intro track Swords, which is pretty much a nice little electronic number with Zola's voice quietly in the background. Once this is over in starts the real album with the track titled Avalanche, this song is quite dark in atmosphere and Zola keeps with her usual soaring style of vocals, there's still a fair amount of experimenting electronically and the beat for the most part is pretty solid. The darkish atmosphere of this album seems to continue on the track Vessel, the drums are far more pronounced as the tempo builds just that little bit more.
Hikikomori shows a lot of keyboard/synth, before the drums come in, the key board again lends to the dark feel of this album. The darkness isn't that obvious but I definitely think its there, taking a fairly back seat to the drums and added electronics. The song is at the same time a little dreamy, the songs patience as it flows along adds another dimension to what she is going with. When I first heard her sing I was reminded of Florence Welsh just a little bit, Zola is similar in probably her high and nothing else. The music is certainly different and her voice lacks the charisma that Florence's has.
The more I listen to this album the more I see it as an electronic album firstly, there's times where its more of an electro pop album as seen on the track Seekir which is definitely the most fun poppy moment on the album. I feel like any emotion is very subtle and sometimes it took me multiple listens of the album to really realise what it was. The track Lick The Palm Of The Burning Handshake to me is probably the saddest song on this album, Zola's voice certainly suits emotional music but thankfully she doesn't over do this on the album.
I really am a fan of Zola Jesus and most of her songs are really nice, her voice of course is stunning, unfortunately with this album I not really sure I dig this as much as I would like. The songs are great, beautiful in fact the problem is the electronics are lacking at times which was one of my favourite parts. This combined with Zola never really changing it up vocally makes her vocals get a little boring after a while, this might be why I loved the shorter burst of tracks on the EP's particularly.
With everything said this is still a cool album, not perfect but the basis of a great album. The vocal range is superb and when the more experimental electronic bits are in play the tracks can be really interesting and fun to listen to.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10