Jonathan Hape raised his right hand to high-five me. I had just pointed out that his new album, Carnivore, sounds like a high-fidelity version of the Microphones' The Glow, Pt. 2. Hape has been fascinated with Phil Elverum's analog indie-pop symphonies for years, though it never quite showed on previous releases like Letters to India and I'm Awake/I'm Asleep.
Jonathan Hape raised his right hand to high-five me.
I had just pointed out that his new album, Carnivore, sounds like a high-fidelity version of the Microphones' The Glow, Pt. 2. Hape has been fascinated with Phil Elverum's analog indie-pop symphonies for years, though it never quite showed on previous releases like Letters to India and I'm Awake/I'm Asleep.
"The album went from being a really big influence to just swallowing me whole," Hape explained.
Frankly, he's the one who deserves a high-five. Spotting Hape's influences is no great feat - The National and Death Cab for Cutie are in there too - because they bleed through to the surface frequently throughout Carnivore. But that transparency doesn't keep the record from being a massive step forward for one of the city's most ambitious musicians.
"Really the entire record is where almost all records begin, which is mega-changes happening in your life," Hape said. "It seems like most artists tend to reevaluate within their art."
For Hape, 24, the change was a combination of factors: a bad breakup with his girlfriend of three years, adjusting to a new job in Columbus after moving from Mansfield and incessant drama with his roommates. As he coped with a deep depression, he sought for the first time to make an album to please himself rather than to impress outsiders. The result, ironically, has been his most acclaimed release to date.
"I was never going to write a record that was 'about life,' quote-unquote, that was like, 'You broke up with me, blah blah blah.' I wanted it to be literally about life happening, the cycles flowing - breathing in what the trees give us, everything," Hape said.
His take might come off a bit New Age, but the album also features his first song in some time to address his Christian faith. "The Lord" is alternately comforting and harrowing depending on your perspective, but it's fascinating either way. Framing a divine monologue in a swarm of multi-tracked strums synced up intentionally askew, Hape emerged with something like the love child of the Microphones and Sufjan Stevens.
Other moments on Carnivore are more straightforward but just as melancholic. Each track is an orchestra of overdubs drawn from diverse corners of Hape's sonic palette, from the noise explosion of "My Naked Skin" to the swelling grandeur of "We Were the Sky."
On tour, Hape plays alone, recreating and reinterpreting the sound through a series of loops. Between his low-key solo jaunts and big-budget stints playing bass for Columbus-based Christian rapper John Reuben, he's frequently away from home. That ceaseless route will wind through Columbus again next Wednesday, though, when Hape headlines Carabar.
Show up and give the guy a high-five, why don't you?