What previously sounded like a gloomy, trancey shot at ’90s pop idealism is rendered ripe with modern classical pomp
Nika Rosa ‘Zola Jesus’ Danilova talks a good, high-minded artistic game, one that’s echoed by much of what’s written about her. It all serves to make her music appear more scary and imposing than it actually is. Scattered across her three previous albums are naggingly hooky and often commercially viable synth-goth-popera tunes; eight of them (plus one lyrically lovelorn newie, ‘Fall Back’) have been reworked for ‘Versions’, which teams Danilova with a New York string quartet and industrial-rock buzzard JG Thirlwell. Considering this man spent much of the 1980s recording under the moniker Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, the results are remarkably plangent and romantic. Sometimes, as on ‘Hikikomori’ or ‘In Your Nature’, the assembled players are essentially gussying up an already be-stringed song, albeit to sterling effect. Meanwhile, on ‘Night’, what previously sounded like a gloomy, trancey shot at ’90s pop idealism is rendered ripe with modern classical pomp.