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Transmission
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Preview Tue Oct 11 2011

Zola Jesus and Xanopticon @ Lincoln Hall 10/12

[This preview comes to us from writer Jason P. Olexa.]

Tomorrow night, Lincoln Hall will be filled to maximum volume by the haunting, swirling, operatic vocals of Zola Jesus in her first Chicago performance since Pitchfork Festival. On that sweltering day last summer Zola Jesus, a blonde former Wisconsin now Los Angeles resident born Nika Roza Danilova, emerged with her pixie frame encased in a metallic dress that visually provoked memories of elaborate French ballet costuming to H.R. Giger's Alien designs. Reflecting the sunlight cast around her Zola Jesus transformed from the musky suffocating rural gothic of her earlier performances and into a sharper synthesized emotional bombast of solid white emotional triumph.

Zola Jesus' latest album Conatus (released Sept. 26th on Sacred Bones) continues this cycle of solar rebirth. Nika's soaring vocals depart from the cold isolationist forest of her previous work and into urban environment. But, this is still Zola Jesus and the picture she paints of urban living is one of giant LEDs, underground dance music played by chamber musicians, and harsh utilitarian concrete monolith architecture with all corners bathed in artificial illumination. This city constructed of her mind has no place to hide and every emotion from the most embarrassing defeat to rocking triumph is exposed to the harsh light of Zola Jesus' judgment. The classical aria come ambient house thump of "In Your Nature" serves as a bed for Nika's influence of French naturalistic writer Emile Zola. References to Emile's scientific opposition of free will are brought into the airy chorus about learning to let go. Like Zola Jesus, Emile Zola was a conflicted human being. He was a cold scientist and an optimistic humanist at the same time. "Seekir" reflects this dogged optimism. Atop its agit pop beat is a brave young songwriter devoted to putting past transgressions behind her and liberating herself from herself. The continually evolving Zola Jesus pushes past the din of her past and into a bright new world of Conatus where she's no longer hiding.

Complimenting the expanding worldview of Zola Jesus is a equally wider musical palate. One of the new tool the bright neo-futuristic production flourishes of early 90s IDM. A line could be drawn from Aphex Twin and Autechre's silicon songs to Zola Jesus' tour mate Xanopticon. In a recent interview with Pitchfork Zola Jesus has referred to the Pittsburg producer as a recent influence. Xanopticon blends the dystopian ambience of John Carpenter soundtracks with the nano-samurai breakbeat wrecking balls of hardcore techno.

Zola Jesus Conatus is available to stream.

Xanopticon has a live set from earlier this year in L.A. to stream on his bandcamp.

Zola Jesus plays Lincoln Hall on Wednesday October 12th, 2011 at 9pm (18+). Xanopticon opens. Tickets are $13 and are still available. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Dancing shoes are optional, but recommended.

-Jason P. Olexa

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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