Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (21/10/14).
There is a deft urgency in Taiga, illustrated by the album opener and brazen title track conducted as a purposeful initiation to this ethereal other-world. Tantalizingly just out of reach, haunting whispers and cries entice the listener into a mystical world, the life of which is aptly conveyed in the pulsating ebb and flow, commanding horns and the frenetic undercurrent of drum and bass. Never one to shy away from brash experimental sounds, Zola Jesus (the chosen moniker of one Nika Roza Danilova) has managed to perfectly encapsulate the sonic landscape of its namesake in Taiga. As a musician and songwriter often inclined to skittish beats and stark sounds, such as those which comprised previous albums The Spoils, Stridulum II and Conatus, her latest creationis a far more welcoming beast.
In comparison to those aforementioned albums, stomping beats, powerful brass and Danilova’s authoritative voice, all weave together to form a flux that is far more palatable than any work the Phoenix songwriter has presented to us before. Originally written for Conatus, recent single ‘Dangerous Days’ is perhaps the closest the industrial songstress has come to an accessible pop hit. Sonically conveying the imagery of the landscape, moments of ‘Dust’ are reminiscent of R’n’B before launching into an abrasive howl, whilst ‘Hunger’ incorporates brass and floor-filling beats and the celestial sounds of ‘Nail’ create an affable yet arresting aesthetic. For an artist of only 25, many would believe that her best is still ahead of her, yet Danilova’s incessant need to push herself and the boundaries of her art is acute even after the final moments of the album have faded.
Read the rest of the review here.