Posts Tagged ‘Ultimate Painting’

Modern Nature – “Flourish”

The current climate has produced a hundred heartbreaks, several of which include shuttered tours in the upcoming months. Modern Nature’s recent leg was included in the cull — bad news indeed. However some silver lining solace lays in the news that Jack Cooper’s (Mazes, Ultimate Painting) most recent resting place has a new EP on the way from Bella Union in the summer. The band releases the slinking, skulking cut “Flourish” this week and it’s an organic extension of what was built up on the recent How To Live. With a crouched countenance and a smoke-stained simmer, the song introduces the upcoming Annual as an inseparable companion piece to their most recent release. The sax of Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias provides a supple connective tissue to the song, with Cooper’s woolen delivery pushing away from the Krautrock cadence of the album and preceding LP a bit. The EP lands on June 5th. Keep an eye out.



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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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Ultimate Painting – “Not Gonna Burn Myself Anymore”

Few records in the past couple of years hold up to the the bittersweet pang of Ultimate Painting’s last album, Dusk. It was a study in melancholy wrapped in appropriately lush production and marked by the brushstrokes of two of indie’s great new voices. The band now makes a jump from their home at Trouble in Mind to Bella Union and while the songwriting and production remains intimate and confessional, the tone takes a tip upward towards the light, as the album’s title, Up! might attest. “Not Gonna Burn Myself Anymore” is haunted by all the familiar ghosts of Ultimate Painting’s sound – wistful delivery, gently knotted guitars and a somber swoon that’s tempered just a tad with Cooper’s slight smile on the vocals. It’s a promise to keep expectations in check and be a bit selfish for self-preservation’s sake. For two musicians with busy schedule’s its probably a hard pill to swallow but it comes together nicely on this first single.

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James Hoare on East Village – Drop Out

For the latest installment of Hidden Gems I asked James Hoare (of Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls, Permanent Ornaments) to pick a lost piece of his personal music landscape. As always, Hidden Gems is based on the idea of those records that are found along the way in life that you can’t believe you never heard about, the ones that just blow you away on first listen and seem like such a find. They’re the kind of records that get left out of all the essential decade lists and 1001 records you need to hear before you die type of listicle… the ones that truly got away. For this installment in the series James picked overlooked UK jangle gem Drop Out from East Village. I asked James how this lovely record came into his life and what the record means to him.

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Pete Astor

The concept of this record is kind of an inter-generational mindblow. Pete Astor’s already lived a dozen lives and for his work in The Loft alone, I’ll remain forever grateful; seriously, “Up The Hill and Down The Slope” should be on every 80’s playlist. Also a member of fellow Creation stablers The Weather Prophets, the man’s got credentials to spare, so on name alone you should be hooked. Somehow though, he’s connected with one of our generation’s own jangle-pop savants, James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and together they’ve mashed their minds to create an album that sounds reverently ripped out of time. The songs on Spilt Milk are cut from the cloth of the best of the class of ’86, but given modern twist of the knife.

For the most part the two are just keeping everything reclined and refined until the very last notes skip to the runout. By the time you get around to standout “Perfect Life” you’re absolutely hooked on this album, its the kind of song that feels like its always just been. Those songs that feel like they’re bound to end up in a Wes Anderson movie at some point. Hoare and Astor make perfect foils, and this album doesn’t feel like a hero worship so much as two janglers just recognizing the badges on their jackets across a crowded room and finding common ground once the tape starts rolling. Its just a slow breaking smile the whole way through.




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