The first thing you hear on the new album by Zola Jesus is the quiet gurgling of a computer. It lasts only a few seconds, but it’s enough to make you feel like you’re witnessing a great machine coming to life. Soon, the far-off, murky moan of singer Nika Roza Danilova enters the mix over tense, thundering drums. “Conatus’’ is moody mermaid music: Danilova usually sounds like she’s beckoning to you from the depths of the ocean, and listening to the album straight through is like spending a dark night in the company of a sorrowful creature who’s not used to being around other people. After a while, the instrumentation, which mainly consists of synths, strings, and booming percussion, ceases to be acutely haunting. And Danilova’s plaintive voice loses some of its potency. Two of the best songs, “Seekir’’ and “In Your Nature,’’ are riveting and smooth, the melodies prettier and more forceful than the rest. Still, one does not stop thinking of mermaids. But one does imagine them flying through the sky instead of swimming in the shadows. (Out today)
ESSENTIAL “In Your Nature’’Zola Jesus performs at Brighton Music Hall on Oct. 17.