New Zola Jesus Single ‘Lost’ Captures Our Universal Sense of Dislocation

When we last heard from Zola Jesus (real name: Nika Roza Danilova), she was enthusing to us about performing at the upcoming Pitchfork Midwinter Festival at the Art Institute of Chicago – which took place in February of 2019, still a year away from the coronavirus crisis forcing everything into lockdown. Her awesome fifth album Okovi had been released a little more than a year earlier, at which time she told BlackBook how the writing for it was inspired by “…a really dark period in my life, I was very depressed. People around me were dealing with extremely difficult things, like a close friend struggling with terminal cancer. It was just a very heavy time.”

Of course, as of March 2020, things were about to get much darker, with the emergence of a global pandemic that would ultimately take six million lives around the world. Nika would remain publicly quiet for the duration of its most fatal period, emerging only now with the new single ‘Lost,’ just as humanity has begun to peek its head out again. The title is not a coincidence, but does very much refer to the sense of dislocation and disorientation we’ve all found ourselves left with, still unsure of even what the near future holds in store (apparently, WWIII might shortly be a part of it).

And to be sure, when she eerily intones, “Give me space to disappear…”, it’s hard not to feel a visceral connection to the sentiment.

Sonically, while ‘Lost’ is laden with all the haunted atmospherics of a mid-period Banshees track, it has the essence of an Eastern European folk song, gently percussive and inescapably hypnotic. Samples of a Slovenian folk choir and the mesmerically chanted choruses give the whole thing a distinctly hymn-like quality.

“It’s true, everyone I know is lost,” Danilova laments. “Lost hope, lost future, lost present, lost planet. There is a collective disillusionment of our burning potential. As we stray further from nature, we drift from ourselves. ‘Lost’ is a sigil to re-discover our coordinates and claim a new path.”

It made perfect sense, then, that she would travel to one of the oldest places on Earth to conjure the visual accompaniment to the track. Turkey’s Cappadocia is a deeply historical region whose whose caves have a 60 million year history, and so surely hold within them the wisdom of the ancients. Turkish director Mu Tunç, who won acclaim for his 2018 film Arada, captures Nika as she traverses the labyrinths of the underground city of Derinkuyu – and there is undoubtedly symbolism in the video ending with her sitting alone, surveying a wide expanse of snow covered desolation laying before her.

“I wanted to shoot the video in a place that carried a lot of energy,” she explains, “with someone that I felt understood the spiritual backbone of the song. It was a surprisingly natural process to make this video with Mu Tunc – I put my faith in him and in Cappadocia. These caves have served as a citadel for so many different people who went there to get lost, and it is a testament to the resilience of humanity, and the durability of our earth.”

The song will also be featured on her upcoming sixth album Arkhon, due out May 20 via Sacred Bones Recordings.

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