Hape's sound defies easy description, pulling from many genres, but his reverb-drenched vocals tie his tracks together. Sounding like something from Audrey Horne's jukebox, his multitracked vocals echo dreamily off in the distance even as entire songs shimmer, mirage-like. Yet unlike too many “dream pop” groups, Hape keeps the pop part firmly in mind. His tunes are constantly upbeat and catchy little earworms, that become echoes-of-echoes in the back of one's head. His lyrics are poetic and obscure, symbolic comments on everyday life that defy quick interpretation.
With a strong psychedelic influence and exquisite three- and four-part harmonies, early Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, and other British psych-pop groups figure heavily into the mix. Songs like Visual Property could practically have come from Barrett-era Floyd. Others pull heavily from newer psych acts like XTC.
Yet, from this base, Hape is able to springboard into a wide variety of styles, creating tracks that feel unified even as they explore a wide range of genres. Buttons takes on a distinct surf\Hawaiian vibe as it bounces along, driven by upbeat steel guitar lines.
His percussion is at times unusually aggressive, especially during intros. In contrast to the dreamier elements, the percussion varies between industrial hits and complex world music beats. Now, for an artist who describes himself as avante garde, Hape's music is surprisingly accessible to just about anyone. His occasional experiments with industrial elements, such as on We Were The Sky, create a few jarring exceptions to this but rarely intrude on the overall laid-back and spacey vibe.
What makes Hape's music more remarkable is the extent to which it's self-crafted. Much of his earlier material was entirely self-produced from top to bottom, with a pieced-together home recording studio. He still handles nearly all the work on his newer tracks, although with a variety of specialty players brought in to broaden the soundscape further.
Jonathan Hape demonstrates perfectly how much raw potential there is on the indie scene. His music pulls together elements ranging from postrock to the blues into a real virtuoso performance of creative composition. While the end result may tend towards being a bit overproduced, he none the less displays an incredible amount of talent.
His work is easily recommended to virtually anyone curious to hear how the old really can be turned into something new and engaging.