Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus has just announced her new record, Okovi, is to be released on September 8th, and sees her return to Sacred Bones Records. It consists of 11 electronics led tracks and she drafted in a number of collaborators to work on the record, including longtime live bandmate Alex DeGroot, producer/musician WIFE, cellist/noise-maker Shannon Kennedy from Pedestrian Deposit, and percussionist Ted Byrnes. Helpfully for us, she also released a statement detailing the albums inspiration and process –
Last year, I moved back to the woods in Wisconsin where I was raised. I built a little house just steps away from where my dilapidated childhood tree fort is slowly recombining into earth. Okovi was fed by this return to roots and several very personal traumas.
While writing Okovi, I endured people very close to me trying to die, and others trying desperately not to. Meanwhile, I was fighting through a haze so thick I wasn’t sure I’d find my way to the other side. Death, in all of its masks, has been encircling everyone I love, and with it the questions of legacy, worth, and will.
Okovi is a Slavic word for shackles. We’re all shackled to something—to life, to death, to bodies, to minds, to illness, to people, to birthright, to duty. Each of us born with a unique debt, and we have until we die to pay it back. Without this cost, what gives us the right to live? And moreover, what gives us the right to die? Are we really even free to choose?
This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature. To bring it to life, I decided to enlist the help of Alex DeGroot, who has been the only constant in my live band and helped mix the Stridulum EP back in 2010. It will be released on Sacred Bones, the closest group of people I’ll ever have to blood-bound family.
Taken from it is a new single, Exhumed. It’s dark and dense from its outset, Danilova’s vocal at the forefront of everything, layered with vocal harmonies and with electronics and beats liberally scattered around it. The cello holds things together, these shards of chords like an inexorable march forward. She has a knack for disguising the beauty in her music, only for it to hit you suddenly and make perfect sense. And that is a gift. Check it out, here