Posts Tagged ‘Beak’

Modern Nature

Following up the eponymous 12” that established Jack Cooper’s new band earlier this year, Modern Nature cements their status with their debut LP, How To Live. The record’s been touted as a cross-section of where the country meets the city – folk forms grafted to a skeleton of motorik pulses and ripples of jazz skronk. There’s also a heavy permeation of cosmic waves that find their way into Modern Nature’s DNA. The band, and Cooper, are careful not to pack to much into one particular song, though. This is a progression, a journey from chaos to meditative ease (relatively speaking). The fluctuations happen organically, in waves and cycles throughout the album. Opening with the organic mew of cello strings, the album massages the darkness that UK-centric folk groups like Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and Incredible String Band carried with them into the crevices of propulsive pop.

Cooper paired up with Will Young (BEAK>, Moon Gangs) for this album and he’s given the songs the wash of rhythm that sneaks in through the fog of folk. Young adds rusted tin atmospheres, the rumble of rails, and the bustle of cityscapes to each song. When the urban life decays and fades, Young helps harness the brokenness and isolation of life change. The band’s namesake song might be their most pop performance, a bubbly and bittersweet hook to hang the album on, but it surrounded by more scarred samples. The haunted “Oracle” is gaunt and unsure. “Nightmares” is, in contrast to its title, surprisingly serene and reassuring, a break through the dark into dawn, but it also shies away from the light.

Its easy to trace back pieces of Modern Nature to previous Cooper-led bands. The pulses found their way into Mazes’ “Skulking” and “Salford” rise up here, and the melancholy and hope that drove Ultimate Painting holds strong as a centerpiece of the new group. Modern Nature finds its brilliance in balance. The essence of the album hangs over crowds like collective breath in cold air – one with the ether while the city moves below. The album has the kind of feeling of a passenger locked into thoughts so deep they forget to disembark the train until it hits the last destination and as we and they stumble out into the cold sun of spring there lies the the ocean, lappping listlessly, but still sparkling with the cold light of morning. This is an album about forgotten firmaments, and changing centers. Its an album ever in transition and we’re all just trying to hold on, or let go, whichever seems most appropriate.



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Modern Nature – “Footsteps”

Jack Cooper’s dizzying new band Modern Nature has let slip a few listens to their upcoming eponymous LP and now they give a visual representation of the nervous energy that drives the band’s sound. The Jake McGowan directed video shows Cooper pacing around the city, backgrounds spinning, flipping, and blurring in disorienting fashion to the beat. While much of the album embraces a pastoral creep into Krautrock’s camp, “Footsteps” is pure motorik mayhem. The songs locks down into a Neu-nicked groove and slashes at the panic with stabs of sax from Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias. Fans of Coo[ers’ Mazes should find a bit to chew on here, but in general Modern Nature is a singularly engrossing entity from Cooper’s musical universe. I’ve said before, I’m sad Ultimate Painting had to go, but if Modern Nature is the result of the fallout, its not all ashes left behind. The record is out on Bella Union August 30th.



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Modern Nature – “Peradam”

Jack Cooper’s (Ultimate Painting, Mazes) new haunt Modern Nature announces an album to follow up their stellar 12” from earlier this year. First offering “Peradam” isn’t quite as rooted in the motorik mindset that held sway on “Nature,” but its still got rhythm on its mind and a sweeping sense of motion beneath the autumnal croon of Cooper and the soft scuttle of sax. How To Live is being billed as a halfway hideaway between Neu and Can’s German Progressive patter and the more lilting folk of Caravan. Honestly, I’m all in on the prog-folk permutations that Cooper’s tumbling through, and while this track has some fine charms, I have a feeling the key’s going to be locking the whole album together into a tapestry of propulsion and strum. The record employs some fine extended bench, with Cooper collaborating mainly with Will Young of BEAK> with contributions from Aaron Nevue (Woods) and Jeff obias (Sunwatchers). Check out the first video above and look out for the new LP August 23rd on Bella Union.



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Modern Nature

Following the unfortunate fallout from Ultimate Painting’s implosion, the band’s Jack Cooper heads inward, which is saying something. His previous outfit had a particular proclivity for introverted indie-pop that felt like it carved a distinct connection with each and every listener. While he’s shying away from the pop aspect of his writing, that core connection and folk formulation remains on Nature. The EP, built on the cavern coolness of purred vocals and bubbling cosmic grooves, gives his work a psychedelic tweak, but its the work of someone spiraling down the depths of the unconscious coil rather than exploring the etchings in the dayglo painted stars above. He’s assembled a crack team to pull off his new vision as well, pulling in members of Woods, Herbcraft, Sunwatchers, and Beak on these four engrossing tracks.

While the propulsion of the title track begs Neu-nerds to come out of the woodwork, the track is self-professed in its allusions to the more experimental bend of ’69 Fairport Convention (in particular “A Sailor’s Life”) and the trend of bucolic English psych-folk toward the creep of drone’s embrace becomes a touchstone for the album. The opening and closing tracks are different visions of the same oasis, with “Supernature” taking the listener much further into the catacombs of consciousness. Elsewhere Cooper explores the sun-licked peace of acoustic thrum on “Flats,” and throws in a cover of the perennially inspiring “Blackwaterside” folk-tale, skipping just Ren Faire aesthetics that lesser artist can cave to and finding the meditative beauty that Jansch and Denny brought to the traditional piece.

Cooper seems to admit that this EP came out of something beyond him, and whether it becomes the beginning of something longer term or just a watershed to tide him through the transition remains to be seen. I’m hoping that he continues down this road, though. The experimental folk badge looks good on him and should the band begin rotating in talent like those assembled so far, it could be a great new chapter in Cooper’s pop cannon.

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