Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Review! (Zola Jesus)

Spent the day at the Old Bailey. Sat in on a trial in the morning (which proved very popular, as most of the class filed into the public gallery while we watched) and listened to witnesses, statements and legal mumbo jumbo. I won't tell you what it was about, because if you start reporting a case, you have to finish (when it does - it's The Rules) and I'm much too lazy. Some of us snuck off early after the nice court reporter man's talk in the afternoon, so I was home by 4 (walked back from the station in broad daylight, which was very strange) and able to get down to some serious loafing about.

It's been too long since my last review (you must be musically bereft, unsure of what exciting new artist to listen to!), so here's one:

Zola Jesus - Stridulum

 Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2ELsTsqvyk

I'm not exactly sure what this song is about (but it's ok, I get the feeling I'm not supposed to be), but it's very atmospheric. That's really the only word I can think of to describe it. It's got lots of good crescendoes, percussion is used for effect rather than as most of the music, as was the case for Torn Apart by Horses, and there are all sorts of exciting harmonies to put you on the edge of your seat. Do you ever listen to music when you're out and about and imagine yourself in a film? Well, I do sometimes (mostly when I've got lots of walking or staring out the train window to do) and if I was listening to this song on the way home, I would half-expect every streetlamp I walked under to go out. And possibly a cloud of screaming phantasms to give chase, with plenty of black and white flashbacks to me lounging in a crypt, or crockery breaking in slow motion or some such. In fact, I suspect that this is the song whoever made those music videos for Evanescence was secretly hoping for. 

This song is so atmospherically overpowering, it would instantly change the nature of any video clip you played it over. Actually, I've just tried it, watching a video called 'i are cute kitten' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZSbC09qgLI if you really care), which I would normally consider fatuous nonsense, even if it does have a cat in it. With Stridulum playing over it, however, it became incredibly sinister, even the cuts to grammatically cringe-inducing text of rather feeble jokes (not least because the cat kept appearing out of things (the bit where it pops out of the bed is genuinely chilling, in this context, and Tarantino himself would be proud of the end part with the net... disconcerting without ever being explicit)), the tension mounting even though I was reasonably sure nothing of note was likely to happen. 

Zola Jesus (probably not her real name, but I'll leave it to a semi-professional reviewer to expand on that) is lucky enough to have a veritable choir of ghostly friends to help out with the singing (everyone needs an edge in the music industry, I'm told), and while she's good enough not to really need their help, they certainly add character to the song. I wouldn't be unkind enough to suggest this is cheating, as if you look at the first picture on the video, she is covered in some sort of crude oil (reminiscent of a surprised seagull on the news after the latest tanker crash) so she clearly has some issues in her life and could do with a break. 

All in all, I enjoyed the song, but I'm nervous that prolonged exposure will lead to my investing in either a pair of cut-off black lace gloves or some serious kerb-stomping, ghost-kicking boots and I'm not sure either would suit me. Worth a listen, though, for whenever you're feeling eldritch or you want some Atmosphere in your life. 

Real Review here: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/music-review/Zola-Jesus-Stridulum-EP (it's of the album rather than the song agin, but I'm sure you can deal with that)

I'm off to have supper now. Hope I don't cross myself too much, or I'll make an awful mess.

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