Identity, justice, consequence. These are hard topics to explore with the reverence they deserve in the space of just four tracks. But that is exactly what Jo Mango & Friends have attempted to do on new EP System Hold.
The project is a first of it’s kind collaboration between Jo and world-renowned criminologist and author Fergus McNeill as a soundtrack to his new book Pervasive Punishment. The resulting EP is solemn, tender and provocative.
For so many of us, the complexities, emotions and trauma of the criminal justice system is an alien world, but on System Hold, Jo manages to offer a sense of how a single act can impact and distort the world of so many lives, like ripples from a drop of rain touching every corner of a pond.
The band employ some intuitive tricks to capture the feeling of a life out of sync with those that surround it. Glitched sounds appear frequently throughout, meant to represent the stumbling, tormented life those under intense supervision are subjected to.
‘Weight’ was the first single taken from System Hold. The track is told through the perspective of a woman who watches as her lover is taken back to jail. She pleads with the parole officer not to cut her partner out of her life. It captures a singular moment which will forever change multiple lives, and pulls apart the myriad of complex, heartbreaking emotions associated with it.
The EP is one which I feel requires multiple, consecutive listens in order to really understand the ideas being conveyed. There are sonic and emotional layers which perhaps don’t reveal themselves at first – something which could leave some listeners feeling disengaged – but the reward for persisting is a record which resonates on a deeply human level.
You can learn more about the collaborative project between Jo Mango & Friends and Professor McNeill by watching the video below.