Reviewed by Michael Levine
The Divine Ricochet Music Series, at The Guggenheim museum, concluded last Thursday night with the final concert being performed by Zola Jesus, Jim Thirwell and The Mivos Quartet. The three-part series of live music accompanied artist John Chamberlain, whose sculptures of wrecked cars, Choices, was on view through May 13th.
The stage was set in the middle of the museum’s ground level with Nika Rosa Danilova aka Zola Jesus front and center. Ms. Danilova was dressed in an angelic white sheath dress with an edwardian style collar made with what looked like white sheer dryer vent hose trimmed with white electric lights. This way cool ensemble was designed by Jeni Hensler and was spot-on for the Guggenheim’s ambient atmosphere.
Jim Thirwell, aka Feutus, was the evening’s musical director and stood behind Nika, in a black suit with white shoes, at a macbook laptop and dynamically conducted the Mivos Quartet. For this special occasion Thirwell had selected nine tracks from Zola Jesus’ EPs Stridulum, Valusia and the most recent Conatus album. Songs like ‘Sea Talk’, ‘Poor Animal’ and ‘Hikikiomori’ lent themselves perfectly to these orchestrations played with great fervor by the very proficient Mivos Quartet. Thirwell’s arms flailed as he directed the orchestra and then would swoop down to enter something on the computer’s keyboard. All the while Nika’s strong, clear voice echoed throughout the spiral design of the Guggenheim. Siouxsie Sioux once told me in a interview that ‘a singer’s instrument isn’t just their voice but it’s their whole body.’ Well, Nika definitely used all of her being as well as her powerful vocals, giving it 200 % and then some.
As she was exiting the stage a barefoot Nika climbed up on the spiral walk way wall, carefully walking as if it were a tight rope until she spilled over into the arms of two audience members. They gracefully helped ease her down to the floor where she scurried off like a lightening bug leaving an illuminated trail into the curvy corridors of the Guggenheim.
Photos (from top) courtesy of: Angel Ceballos; Veronica Ibera; Michael Levine