Thursday 2 September 2010

Zola Jesus @ Brighton Ballroom

The dark sound is back again. As alternative music distances itself from the fall out of landfill indie and the lightweight, shadowy corners are being explored by many.

Nika Roza Danilova is a tiny, pale skinned platinum blonde better known as Zola Jesus. This striking looking lady is digging her own industrial crypt of morbid yet majestic electronica. Synth stained with the sounds Siouxsie Sioux, Joy Division and nightmares, the emotional gloom-pop of Zola Jesus is cavernous in its simplicity.

She prowls the domed and mirrored sophistication of Brighton Ballroom, her small frame bending over to force out a sirens wail of powerful cold opera-blues vocal as if it hurts. It’s incredible that something so big can come from one so petite. Her songs of love, lovers and loss range from the sad emotional calls of Sea Talk “I can’t give you what you need,” to the darkly womb like pulse of Night which offers comfort with Nika singing “So don’t you worry, just rest your head, ‘cause in the end of the night we’ll be together again.”

Her songs lack significant variation, but her performance is fully absorbing. At one point she stands off stage in the corner of the room like the finale of Blair Witch, seductively caressing her hair and the wall to a bleak beaty soundtrack, before letting out a blood curdling scream. Later, cradling a candle in a glass dish she pours the molten wax over her hands before slowly brushing it off – the dark cloaked sorceress casting a spell perhaps.

There’s magic to Zola Jesus – her voice and stage presence announce an emerging talent. If she can add a little more variation to her epic formula then black could well be the new gold.

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