Zora Jones’s Ten Billion Angels is an electronic fantasy inspired by tentacle pornJoshua Minsoo Kimon September 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Born in Austria, based in Spain, and inspired by Chicago footwork and UK instrumental grime, Zora Jones has been making music for a decade but only just released her debut album, Ten Billion Angels (Fractal Fantasy). Its music is glossy, sensual, and alluring in its artificiality, and it pairs nicely with the cover art–a digitally drawn woman whose naked body is immersed in translucent liquid in ropes and streamers that bind and strangle her. Vulnerability, passion, and tension drip from every immaculate production flourish, and it all echoes a crucial reference point that Jones cites for the album: 3D tentacle pornography. Jones’s interest in this contemporary version of the art form–it’s associated with a Japanese tradition that’s been around for centuries, and it gained increased traction when the Internet made it easier to bypass obscenity laws–is particularly fitting. CGI renderings of beastly bodies heighten the peculiarity of such erotica, and Ten Billion Angels teems with digital bliss that mines the basest of human desires via a sonic language that feels similarly fantastical. On “Waiting for You,” Jones cuts up R&B samples so they sparkle like sequins–every processed coo and time-stretched warble exudes a deep pang of yearning for love. That somber spirit also suffuses “Melancholy Princess,” which opens with chime-gilded electronic ambience and then barrels into a rough-edged beat. Jones’s radically altered voice hovers over the proceedings, her sorrowful delivery pointing to the tragedy that must have necessitated such catharsis. Though “Revenge of the Bitch” is completely instrumental, it’s just as affecting as the tracks with vocals, repeatedly slugging the listener with pugilistic production that reveals another, equally emotionally intense side of Jones’s work. The album closes with the queasy vocals and dramatic string arrangement of “Come Home,” a song that’s sad, cryptic, and theatrical all at once, largely due to its synthetic sheen–Jones knows there’s truth hidden in the uncanny. v

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