Zola Jesus and JG Thirlwell featuring Mivos Quartet, Versions

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 08.20.13 in Reviews
Stately and restrained orchestrated reworkings

On her 2011 album Conatus, Zola Jesus’s goth-pop proclivities suggested a liking for the new-wave moods of Kate Bush. It’s a short distance from there to classical ornamentation, and she traverses it on Versions, a collection of orchestrated reworkings of songs made in the service of a performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. With arrangements written by JG Thirlwell, a veteran polymath with roots in the industrial band Foetus who has recently done pan-stylistic work for TV’s Adult Swim, Jesus bellows and swoons through material (five songs from Conatus, three from 2010′s Stridulum II, and one new song, “Fall Back”) made especially dramatic and grand by this backing. “Avalanche (Slow)” opens with a mix of drawn-out drones and intercutting strings that summon a cinematic sense of anticipation. “Fall Back” is more eerie, discordant, and strange, with extra oomph introduced by drums. “Run Me Out” seethes with pent-up energy that threatens to break out into industrial, but for the most part, Versions tacks toward the stately and the restrained.