Tag: Zola Jesus (Page 1 of 4)


Nika Roza Danilova, born Nicole Hummel, is the artist behind the ZOLA JESUS project.

Having debuted in 2009 with grossly underrated ‘The Spoils’ LP, Hummel continued to charm in an almost witchy fashion through her output. At times more poppy like ‘Taiga’ to the dark and hunting ‘Okovi’, her main instrument being the eerie, operatic voice around which she builds her song structures.

With deep admiration of Russian language, culture and landscapes, her productions ooze coldness and depth, showcasing the darkest corners of electronica.

Historically Danilova would prefer to have reins over all aspects of songwriting, production and instrumentation; she would be the one constructing the finished piece. With ‘Arkhon’ however, she hit a wall of not being able to create and desperately felt she needed to bring in new blood.

That led her to sending her demos to Randall Dunn and collaborating with Matt Chamberlain. The latter, who was well known for his work with Bob Dylan and David Bowie, helped to define the sound of ‘Arkhon’. Spurred by others’ contributions, her creative juices started flowing, where she could feel that her ideas expanded “into a sound that (she) never would have been able to think of on (her) own”.

Indeed the opening ‘Lost’ serves as a perfect example, where the layered urgent vocals, sparsely placed over native drums claim the voice of desperation, yet are embroiled in hope. ‘The Fall’ marries vintage Zola and modern pop, meandering between paced and urgent, vocals at times reminiscent of the late Aaliyah and otherwise very Grimes.

The album’s synth marvel comes in next, embodied in the magnificent ’Undertow’, with darker elements meeting a twisted take on synthwave. ‘Into The Wild’ is gentle and innately beautiful, sung from the depths of consciousness while ‘Dead & Gone’ featuring friend and touring violist Louise Woodward is an epiphany of healing amidst gloominess.

The pulsating ‘Sewn’ written in total collaboration with Dunn and Chamberlain is fast paced and native, juxtaposed with the bare ‘Desire’ with its simple piano and palpable pain expressed upon the end of a relationship. Perhaps it wasn’t Danilova’s ‘Fault’ who is “only human and some things don’t make sense”. Possibly the best track on the opus, this gem with cleverly placed electronic elements is reminiscent of instrumental DEPECHE MODE marvels circa ‘Music For The Masses’ and with exhilarating vocals, towers high over many of ZOLA JESUS’ contemporaries.

‘Efemra’ goes back to tribal before the closing ‘Do That Anymore’ is loaded with the feeling of the new found freedom; “There is a moment where you stop fighting with yourself. That’s when things can really happen”. And they did…

Having to change the perspective on music making and allowing others to share in the process, ZOLA JESUS “could enjoy being in the moment, putting that into the music and letting it unravel or evolve in its own way. To let it have its own story that I only had a part in telling”. 

‘Arkhon’ doesn’t only mean “power” or “ruler” in Ancient Greek but also translates into a Gnostic idea of power wielded through a flawed god, tarnishing the corrupted humanity with ZOLA JESUS firmly believing to be the sign of modern times.

Perhaps not as accomplished as ‘Okovi’, this latest representation of Danilova’s abilities certainly ushers a new era in her song making. And perhaps having finally shaken the shackles, she will enjoy future collaborations to enhance her enormous talents.

‘Arkhon’ is released on 24th June 2022 via Sacred Bones Records on CD, cassette and a variety of limited edition coloured vinyl LP variants via https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/zola-jesus





Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photo by Shervin Lainez
22nd June 2022


GEISTE is the musical vehicle of Marie Chabrelie from near St Tropez who probably would have been a product of JRR Tolkien had he manufactured pop stars.

Haunting, captivating and endearing, she invites you into her moody world of escapist pop on her debut EP ‘Utopia’.

Like something that could have come off the soundtrack ‘Killing Eve’, the haunting opener ‘Omen’ is simultaneously bewitching yet sinister, beautiful yet unsettling, built around a repeating ivory motif, sinister humming and the emotive air of Nordic songstress Susanne Sundfør.

Beginning in a layered neo-acapella fashion, ‘Dither’ becomes mighty once the majestic vocal refrains and multi-coloured percussive fervour kick in alongside the penetrating deep drone of synthbass. Capturing the cut and thrust of a city walk, it’s a determined train of thought that GEISTE expresses despite the inherent forlorn melancholy.

The expansive ‘Ocean’ is perhaps GEISTE’s signature song, an environmentally conscious battlecry that showcases her widescreen cinematics and impressive vocals that capture the angst of Zola Jesus within a melodic fantasia.

The angst takes a breather for the shorter but dreamier ‘Fetish’ which plays around with some glassy sound design. But GEISTE belts it all out again on ‘Anthems’, a dramatic number swathed in a building rhythmic drama that recalls NIKI & THE DOVE while also throwing in a swooping dubstep drop.

The hypnotic ‘Moonchild’ has perhaps the unifying essence of everything on this EP thrown into a singular track, providing not only the EP’s crystalline highlight but one that shows ‘Ocean’ was no fluke. It’s that progressive successor to the initial breakthrough which all aspiring artists need in their developing repertoire.

Painting pictures in light and shade, ‘Utopia’ has the French youngster articulating over a collage of rumbling bass, synthetic orchestrations and ritualistic rattles before a staccato virtual choir provides a wonderful textural statement to close.

For her opening body of work, GEISTE has impressed by collecting her best seven tracks to date to offer to a potentially wider audience.

You only get to make a first impression once and her ‘Utopia’ makes a rather enthralling otherworldly one.

‘Utopia’ is available as digital EP via the usual online platforms

GEISTE presents a ‘Utopia’ live stream party on Friday 29th May 2020 at 2100 UK time, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GERXHW0QXFU






Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th May 2020

MENTRIX My Enemy, My Love

As ZOLA JESUS said recently, looking inwards is something she does a lot of, and in these unprecedented times, isolation and concentration on self, will be something that even the biggest extroverts will have to work on.

Not too dissimilar from Ms Jesus, Sufi inspired Iranian born, Berlin based artist MENTRIX, debuts with her long player ‘My Enemy, My Love’ in which she looks towards the core of her existence, intertwining her varied experiences with wonderfully unique musicality derived from Persian poetry and modern electronica.

Samar Rad moved to France when she was eight by the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Aged fourteen she moved back, and had to re-discover her Farsi mother tongue, going from learning Latin and French literature to Arabic and the Qu’ran. Later, Mentrix spent some time in Britain and now the Iranian desert rose lives in Berlin.

Drawing from her experience of an immigrant deserter, not really belonging and missing her home land, Rad says: “This album reflects my relationship with the contrasting worlds I lived in, with myself, and all my existential wanderings.”

‘My Enemy, My Love’ is being released on MENTRIX’s own label, House Of Strength. The name comes from the gathering place “Zoorkhaneh”, where warriors would train in secret during the Arab invasion of Persia in the Seventh Century. The men would gather there to fuel patriotic feelings. “Women for instance do not train in these places,” explains Rad, “this idea of solidarity must be revived, everywhere, yet the patriarchal aspect must still be fought.”

The long player unfolds in eight tracks, each one unique and derived from a different source within the artist’s psyche. The captivating ‘Nature’, with its enchanting video, filmed in the stunningly beautiful landscapes of Kavir-e-Lut, in eastern Iran, known to be one of the hottest places on earth, is as hypnotic as it is tantric. Played on Daf and Tombak, both traditional Iranian drums, with the inclusion of Sufi inspired lyrics, the track is electrifying.

‘Walk’ is packed with tribal qualities, almost devoid of any sound, except for the floating vocal and metallic shuffling until further instrumentation is introduced to create a very ZOLA JESUS-like landscape. ‘Dreams’ continues the trance twists with a numismatic concoction of swirling sounds à la THE KNIFE, while ‘Igneous Sun’ releases more reflective textures over sparkling synths.

The title track races towards its culmination with distinctive Iranian instruments such as the tombak, kamancheh, ney and daf, each sounding alien to the western ear but bring the artist a great deal of national pride.

The inclusion of marching drum on ‘Loyalty’ sustains the feeling of urgency, where Rad calls out for “patience”. Inspired by traditional Mooyeh mourning chant from Lorestan in Iran, ‘Longing’ brings raw quality to the recording, with sounds derived from desert sand and mountain winds.

“It is very important for me to associate my music with the landscape of Iran,” explains Rad, “I am forever attached to my birth place, and my identity and aspirations are very rooted in Iranian culture. Since the West so often portrays Iran in a questionable way, I feel obliged to share its diverse and positive faces to the world.”

‘If’, however, sounds perfectly western, perfectly synthy and perfectly soulful; it’s an urban ballad of uncertainty and thoughtfulness.

Deeply connected with her beloved homeland, MENTRIX re-defines women of Persia and women living all over the world.

This feminist theme stretches to the fact that featured on the record are primarily women, such as Claire Bay playing the ney, to multi-award winning legendary New York-based mastering engineer, Emily Lazar.

Previously, MENTRIX used to lend vocals on other people’s music. But on ‘My Enemy, My Love’, she ushers in the era of Rad, debuting with a unique sound, bridging eastern and western cultures. This isn’t your standard feminist stance, however, in the way the likes of REIN would approach the subject.

Her femininity and musical landscapes, paint the picture of maturity and grace, highlighting the strength and resilience to overcome all adversities. And now, more than ever, we need those attributes in order to survive this Armageddon.

‘My Enemy, My Love’ is released on 3rd April 2020 via House of Strength





Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
1st April 2020

Introducing GEISTE

Now if JRR Tolkien had manufactured a pop star, he’d have probably have come up with avant pop songstress GEISTE.

GEISTE is the musical vehicle of Marie Chabrelie, a young singer / songwriter / producer from near St Tropez.

She began as an acoustic act with a trip-hop past before she found that her fantasy storytelling could enter a more intriguing sonic universe using electronics.

The environmentally conscious battlecry of ‘Ocean’ has been her opening statement.

Outlining her widescreen synthy cinematics and impressive vocals capturing the angsty emotion of ZOLA JESUS, the picturesque visual presentation for ‘Ocean’ directed by Jean Dakar magnificently illustrates ‘Ocean’, with GEISTE’s animated movements in light and shade.

Framed in forlorn melancholy, songs like ‘I Just Feel Really Empty Inside All The Time’, ‘She Wants ME Dead’, ‘Solitary Rides’, ‘Omen’ and ‘I Can’t Wait Until You Burn Me Down’ all suggest that GEISTE inhabits a very heavy ghostly world, but there is melody amongst the inherent darkness.

However on ‘Twig’, GEISTE demonstrates that she knows her way around a good dance pop tune, while the jazzier vibes of ‘On My Mind’ with AR FERDINAND shows a willingness to occasionally collaborate and depart from her fantasia.

The most recent GEISTE single ‘Anthems’ is swathed in a building percussive drama recalling the rhythmic fervour of NIKI & THE DOVE, but the upcoming release ‘Utopia’ tests out her vocal range over a collage of rumbling bass, virtual choir, synthetic orchestrations and tribal rattles.

Haunting, captivating and endearing, GEISTE takes you into her moody escapist musical world. Promising further surprises, her triumphant opening spot at London’s 100 Club for EMIKA and FIFI RONG was merely a taster.

‘Anthems’ and ‘Ocean’ are available as digital singles via the usual online platforms






Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th December 2019

KANGA Eternal Daughter

With the mix of the airy feel of MARSHEAUX and darker connotations of ZOLA JESUS, California based KANGA is no stranger to insidious sounds, having worked on the music for horror movies such as ‘Nightmare’, ‘The Devils Carnival II’, ‘Insidious III’, and ‘The Conjuring II’.

Kanga Duchamp creates an unforgettable symbiosis of hard and ethereal, wrapped in electronic soundscapes of Los Angeles.

She likes mixing pop into her darker electro roots, not because pop sells but because the good hooks make a good song.

Her 2016 self-titled album, featuring SKINNY PUPPY guitarist Matthew Setzer and mixed by Rhys Fulber of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, created a buzz that continues to fuel the energy pushing the Santa Ana artist out into the open with her new mini album ‘Eternal Daughter’.

As all good things come in small packages, and EPs as well as mini albums seem to capture the listeners’ attention more readily, KANGA decided to release a bite size provision, full of punchy tunes, which are leading her all the way to the Numan support slots.

‘Burn’ doesn’t disappoint from the onset, weaving in the elements of vintage LADYTRON alongside layered vocals a la Greek goddesses MARSHEAUX. All that wrapped around gritty synth, melodic hooks and a fast paced musicality.

None of that stops, with the Persian inspired sounds of ‘Daughter’. Here the bass is heavy, with cinematic progressions and very cleverly inserted metallic elements. The outcome is rather Numan-esque but somehow fresher and readier.

‘Run’ resembles the achievements of KANGA’s LA colleagues NIGHT CLUB, with the vocal similar of that of Emily Kavanaugh’s while ‘Cocaine’ fuels the electronic fire further with inspiration from the artist she often mentions in interviews and clearly takes a lot of musical advice from, NINE INCH NAILS. Their sound magician has clearly had a massive impact of KANGA’s musical direction, with many describing her as a “female Trent Reznor”.

The closing ‘Control’ is a coagulation of rough and ready eclectic mix of sounds, punctuated by melodic inserts, driven vocals and immediate femininity, bursting with energy and wielding the power of objectification.

With total musical freedom and steering clear from constricting pigeon holes, KANGA’s style is difficult to classify; it is supposed to be a darker electronica with popular music elements, but the outcome is so much more than that. She’s contemporary, unconventional and current, without being too quirky and audience limiting, self-indulgent to the point of becoming too niche.

KANGA is your new mainstream alternative and simply superb.

‘Eternal Daughter’ is available as a digital mini-album direct from https://kanga.bandcamp.com/

KANGA opens for Gary Numan on his (R)Evolution 40th Anniversary UK tour, further details can be found at https://garynuman.com/tours2/




Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
10th September 2019

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