Charlotte avant-folk group JPH creates an atmospheric 21-minute quarantine-friendly meditation song

By Shirley Griffith

May 1, 2020

As Charlotteans step into our third month of quarantine due to COVID-19, feelings of hopelessness and the overarching weight of isolation feel even heavier as we readjust daily to an unprecedented world. Desolate streets, darkened store fronts, and digitized togetherness all culminate to create a sad reality. 

As scared as each individual may be, it is the collective human nature to connect and assimilate to our surroundings, finding betterment in each challenge we overcome. In the distance, humans fight to stay together and manifest beauty, art, and compassion with a newly-fueled purpose. In this space, we begin to notice aspects of our lives we may have previously been too busy to see; how the light comes through our window in the mid-day sun, how families of wildlife– just under our noses– busy themselves in an unconcerned connection to the earth, and how our pets are so happy for us to fully inhabit our homes.

Thomas Sizemore (top left), Blair Bowman (top right),  Jordan Hoban (middle), Melanie Dailey and Zach Jordan (bottom left),  Tate Viviano (bottom right).

With a sound that is comforting like an antique heirloom and familiar in its haunting nook, local band JPH creates crafty atmospheres that invite the listener to delve inside their own selves. JPH is the brainchild of Jordan Hoban, an avant-folk group from Charlotte who are becoming known for their sincerity in experimentation with natural sounds that tenderly stitch timeless emotional portraits. JPH has released the music video for their new single-track album, Distantimacy (out on digital platforms May 8). “[it] utilizes the distant voices of my quarantined band to discuss the healthy side of delayed gratification, and how intimacy never diminishes, even when obstructed by time and space,” Hoban said. 

Distantimacy is a signal of communal mourning, brought together from a shared loss of the norm. The video begins with each band member setting up their recording space outside and under a gracious blue sky on one of the many beautiful days we’ve been blessed with during the quarantine. Keeping with the humble significance of JPH’s dialect, each space is simple, human, and unique: A picnic blanket shared with a turtle (Blair Bowman), an engaged couple with flowers tucked lovingly behind their ears (Melanie Dailey and Zach Jordan), a grassy bush of clover (Thomas Sizemore), a grainy throat-clearing interjection by Tate Viviano, and Hoban sitting on a couch, holding a violin proudly– the only instrument used in the album. 

The loud chirp of birds cuts the video to white and, for the next 21 minutes, a homespun shedding and stop-motion of curly dock, prickly lettuce, and dandelion hypnotizes with repetitive resolve. Each time the lawn findings fall away, they appear again in an acceptance of circumstance, a celebration of our short time in this moment we find ourselves in. The vocal loopings massage anxieties by swinging from minor to major chords, a descent then ascent of sound that mimics the rebirth of not only the lawn clippings in the video, but also of the cycle of life.

We find again the hope of the human form, the resilience despite everything, the joy of living despite the promise of death. The violin enters the meditative build-up with a Hoban composition around a third of the way into the track, introducing a lush string arrangement weaving into the vocal harmonies. As the track approaches the later stage, an early 1900’s Alan Lomax field recording of Pearl R. Nye’s ghost vocals appear, praising the remarkable beauty of simple things like finding love. The addition to the track, which ends with “So upon my breast I lay a turtle dove, to show the world I died for love,” underlines JPH’s craft of merging time parallels, bringing to life a heart-wrenching 100-year-old love song and laying it to rest with a reverent violin and the longing vocals of six musicians. 

Check out the music video for the single-track album, Distantimacy (out on digital platforms May 8). 

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