Zola Jesus has released a brand new video for Fall back, the first single to be taken from her new record Versions. Versions is Zola Jesus’ recent collaboration with experimental composer JG Thirlwell. Thirlwell, who some will know as Foetus, has added lush, haunting and sometimes confrontational arrangements to songs from Zola Jesus’ previous two albums. Fall Back is the one exception in that it’s a brand new track that they have worked on together.
Fall Back is a beautiful song which starts with sparse lyrics and scratchy strings and develops into an epic torch song gaining momentum thanks to powerful drums and Thirlwell’s stirring underscore. Director Allie Avital Tsypin has produced an appropriately gorgeous, if not exactly, ground-breakingly original music video for the song.
The first shot of a woman lying on her back in the rain with her arms stretched out in the middle of a large walkway is so captivating
that if the songs style stayed this way for the full four minutes, the slow zoom out could happily be the only image needed. This is followed by more grim stark images of cold soviet era architecture and as Nika Danilova, dressed seemingly in the same fabric as the wall behind her, opens her sullenly closed eyes, the video explodes at the same time as the song bursts into life. Where before we had cold eastern European imagery, now Danilova stands in the middle of an East Asian forest surrounded by leaves and waterfalls and wearing traditional Eastern dress as the camera pans quickly around her. The move from sparse urban imagery to scenes of nature suits the change in the songs mood. The string sections and skittering electronic beats bring a real warmth and softness to the track with the cascading water and fast camera cuts helping to add to the tunes change in tempo. By the last frame, Zola Jesus is standing statuesque on a rock on the side of a mountain at one with her surroundings, signalling a transformation from that girl who was lying on her back in the rain at the start of the video.
Nika Roza Danilova delves into the imagery and thought behind the video: “When I wrote Fall Back, I was thinking of those moments in your life when you know exactly what you want and how it is in that instant of knowing that you commit yourself to the unbending stamina of your own will. You relinquish control to instincts. The video communicates the stillness of conviction by capturing the point when the eye fixes the target. There is very little movement as it is not about getting that thing you want but knowing that it will be yours.”
When you think of a Zola Jesus video, techni-colour, hot pink and rainbows are not things that spring immediately to mind. That being said she could do with moving away from cold, grey imagery and metaphors and try spicing things up a bit. There’s real warmth and intimacy in her music which is only being further harnessed now by JG Thirlwell’s powerful string arrangements. There’s also a real sense of drama and mystery to her lyrics. Somewhere out there is a great Zola Jesus video waiting to be made with underlying plot, real characters and high production values. It would be great to see that video but until then efforts like these will more than make do.
By Josh Bennett