I became aware of Columbus’ Jonathan Hape at Goggles Optional IV when I saw that odd superimposed face pop up on the screen to advertise his show on March 9th. It held my interest for a few minutes, but not long enough for me to give it much thought. Then a few weeks ago he invited me out to review the show and advertised his music as “live looping, ambient sounds, and dark pop sounds.” That was enough to send me to his bandcamp site and explore a little more.
While many bands shy away from labels or have trouble categorizing themselves, Hape’s description summarizes his sound better than I could. Odd, semi-industrial noises mix with drum machine rhythms in the background to provide a foundation for the Bauhaus-esq guitar and ambient David Bowie type vocals. All of this mixes together to form a delightful experimental indie pop sound. While I don’t usually consider myself a fan of any type of music that could be described as “indie,” Hape has enough brooding darkness to bring out the Cure fan in me.
While it can get a little repetitious, the song “Height Hit Heads” features great middle eight back beats that keep the sound fresh. “Buttons” is a song that could have been written in the early sixties and comes to life with Hape’s electronic arrangement. “Beyond! Henceforth!” is an interestingly noisy video-game-rock style interlude that has me bouncing in my chair. My favorite track, “In Different Shapes,” starts out with the best bass line of the album that leads the song to a great prog rock melody.
Though his profile on bandcamp lists seven solo releases there is no sense that he’s rushed the output or hurried his songwriting to get product out. The songs are well crafted and seem to be more focused on quality than quantity. I would love to hear more from him but my internet connection is being really slow and I’m going to have to wait a few days to try and listen to his new album “Spinner.”
While I will probably always prefer a live band to an electronic one, I think Jonathan Hape is at the forefront of what can be done by one man and his computer.
Almost Famous: Do you have a live backing band?
I play strictly solo when I play my solo material, though I have had backing bands in the past and have been joined by a lot of talented friends.
AF: How do you perform?
JH: I generally use live loops of drums, guitar, octave bass, and vocals. Some shows are more eerie; some are more fun. It all depends on the environment I play in.
AF:What can we expect from a live Jonathan Hape show?
JH: You can expect a handful of songs from albums I’ve been making over the past decade, though mostly PLACES and an unreleased album called Color Wounds. I generally have some moments of chaos and wall of sound; walls which I hide behind for a little while.
AF: Were you in other bands before you went solo?
JH: Room & Board is the most recent, though I have been doing solo material for a long time. I also played in the bands Marksjet, Blood on my Neck, Dearhead, and The Forgotten Sons.
Best of luck to Jonathan as he continues his tour and music career.
To visit his facebook page click [here]