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http://www.music-news.com/review/UK/12756/Album/Zola-Jesus

As a means of filtering loss and grief, artistic endeavours as forms of catharsis is a tried and tested medium, an attempted reconciliation with the present/past and a yet to be realised future. Forgiveness and redemption are sought and occasionally found.

These creations act as a soothing balm to alleviate pain and woe, and with titles like ‘Exhumed’, and ‘Remains’ and lyrics including ‘decay’ the message here is clear: life and death, love and last breath are entwined, the gap between the pair fleeting, a speck in the eye’s mind/splinter in the mind’s eye.

On ZJ’s sixth album Okovi (Slavic for ‘shackles’) she addresses life’s big questions: our attachment to our ‘selves’, each other, nature’s rhythms and societal systems, all prisms and prisons depending on perception.

Opener ‘Doma’ is an echo chamber-crie de couer, a plea to be free, away from the chains and pain ‘a ghostly ‘take me home’ an ambiguous plaint to return to the womb or retire to the tomb?

Soil is toiled, tossed and turned on ‘Exhumed’ a less cloying and annoying Florence and the Machine and her rote emoting, this is vocal dexterity that yearns for relief not approval from a ‘talent’ show chief.

Appeasement and bereavement permeate ‘Soak’ as the ‘can’t win’ dichotomy of ‘I feel/give nothing’ erupts into Fever Rayish trip-hopping all the way ‘down to the water’. One way to drown sorrows.

‘Ash to bone’ evokes Siouxsie Sioux’s gothic garlanding, a spectral projection of the erosion of existence. The symphonic ‘Witness’ airs ZJ’s sombre timbre, a spectacular tale of seeing and not wanting to believe.

‘Siphon’ is a graphic account of ‘rather ‘clean the blood of the living dead’ a Hobson’s choice if ever there was one. ‘the cold, dark nights inside your head’ echo those times of despondency, the bottom has been reached, looking up is not on the radar. ‘Veka’ is a throbbing missive from the afterlife.

This album is a soul-cleansing, demon banishing exorcism. The mental manacles have been cast aside.

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