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MODERN NATURE

The Charlatans

Modern Nature - 2023 Reissue

    Produced by The Charlatans and Jim Spencer, and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead), ‘Modern Nature’ is the band’s 12th studio album. Originally released in 2015, the album features a cacophony of contributors: from drummers Pete Salisbury (The Verve), Stephen Morris (New Order) and Gabriel Gurnsey (Factory Floor), to Kate Bush’s backing singers Melanie Marshall and Sandra Marvin, strings by Sean O’Hagan and brass courtesy of Jim Paterson. Described by Q ‘as one the finest of their career’, the album debuted in the top 10 in the UK Albums Chart . Pressed on transparent yellow vinyl.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side 1:
    1. Talking In Tones
    2. So Oh
    3. Come Home Baby
    4. Keep Enough
    5. In The Tall Grass
    6. Emilie
    Side 2:
    1. Let The Good Times Be Never Ending
    2. I Need You To Know
    3. Lean In
    4. Trouble Understanding
    5. Lot To Say

    Modern Nature

    No Fixed Point In Space

      No Fixed Point In Space, the third full-length album by Jack Cooper’s Modern Nature, takes the palette of sound and themes that were honed on 2021’s Island Of Noise and launches them into an expansive world of openness and vivid technicolour. It’s a music that hasn’t been heard before; as melodic as anything Cooper has produced but framed by rhythms and instrumentation that reflect the chaos, unpredictability and colour of the natural world.

      Certain moorings - woodwind, percussion, strings and Cooper’s lambent voice - are still present and recognisable from No Fixed Point In Space’s predecessor, Island Of Noise but the new record marks a shift to utilising musical notation as a point of departure, from which the group explore the space around suggested notes and rhythms to create a semi-improvised, semi-composed ensemble performance. These explorations of partly organised chance were recorded live and directly to tape.

      This approach gives the music a remarkably fresh feel; songs pulse and evolve. The changes between movements, verse and choruses are almost all ambiguous. During the album’s opener Tonic, a verse of hushed brevity washes away into a passage of overwhelmingly vibrant orchestration.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. Tonic
      2. Murmuration
      3. Orange
      4. Cascade
      5. Sun
      6. Tapestry
      7. Ensō

      Modern Nature

      Island Of Noise

        Since the demise of his previous band Ultimate Painting, Jack Cooper – under his Modern Nature guise – has never stopped looking ahead, exploring, and reaching for something further. Since 2019, he’s released an EP, mini album Annual, one full length LP, one 7” and three live cassettes – in the process mapping out astonishing new terrain. Island Of Noise presents an obvious new peak in his discography.

        “Mesmerising... A treasure trove of interesting musical ideas, as well as a source of restorative solace.” The Guardian – 4 stars ****

        “On Island Of Noise Modern Nature’s Jack Cooper folds together much of what he’s already done – illuminated pop, exploratory improvisations, post-Canterbury prog – and locates a common thread, expanding outwards with the help of free-music pioneers saxophonist Evan Parker and bassist John Edwards.” Uncut – 9/10

        “Jack Cooper captures a sense of mystery and magic on his second album as Modern Nature, using gentle folk rock as the base for a subtle evocation of peacefulness.” The Times – 4 stars ****

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Tempest
        2 Dunes
        3 Performance
        4 Ariel
        5 Bluster
        6 Symmetry
        7 Masque
        8 Brigade
        9 Spell
        10 Build

        Modern Nature

        Rydalwater

          ‘Rydalwater’, a 10-minute improvised guitar composition by Jack Cooper (Modern Nature), will be released over two sides of a 7″ single, out 10 March,

          Originally commissioned as an improvised piece for the Caught by the River programme for Aerial Festival back in September, Modern Nature’s ‘Rydalwater’ is now to become the twelfth release on Caught by the River's ‘Rivertones' label (with artwork by Tara Okon). 

          Modern Nature

          Annual

            Released in August 2019, Modern Nature’s debut album - How to Live - crossed the urban and rural into each other. Plaintive cello strains melted into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drifted through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shone with reflective saxophone accents, placing the record somewhere between the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs and the atmospheric waves of Harmonia. The album was met with universal acclaim and featured in a number of publication’s ‘Best Of 2019’ lists. As the group took the album out on the road, Modern Nature became something even more expansive. “It feels like there's scope and room to grow. I want the group to feel fluid and that whoever's playing with us can express themselves and interpret what they think this music is” says bandleader Jack Cooper.

            Their new mini-album Annual, recorded in December 2019 at Gizzard Studio in London, is another step towards something more liberated and a world away from the sound of Jack Cooper's previous bands. Will Young sits this one out, concentrating on his work with Beak, but How To Live collaborator Jeff Tobias takes a more central role, alongside percussionist Jim Wallis.

            Jack explains how 'Annual' came about:
            “Towards the end of 2018, I began filling a new diary with words, observations from walks, descriptions of events, thoughts...free associative streams of just... stuff. Reading back, as the year progressed from winter to spring, the tone of the diary seemed to change as well... optimism crept in, brightness and then things began to dip as autumn approached... warmth, isolation again and into winter. I split the diary into four seasons and used them as the template for the four main songs. The shorter instrumental songs on the record are meant to signify specific events and transitions from one season to the next. I figured it wouldn't be a very long record, but to me it stands up next to 'How To Live' in every way.”

            ‘Annual’ opens with ‘Dawn’ which brings to mind the peace and space of Miles Davis' ‘In A Silent Way’; it rises from nothing like shoots reaching for the light. “I wanted Dawn to feel like the moment you realise spring is coming, when you notice blossom on the trees or nights getting lighter. On lead track ‘Flourish’, it's clear Modern Nature have moved on from the first album; as muted percussion and double-bass stirs behind Cooper's Slint-like ambling guitar; the chorus soars into a collaged crescendo. “Flourish is like when my part of the world coming to life. I live on the edge of London between Leytonstone and Epping Forest, so the signs of spring are very apparent round here - flowers, light, people talking in their gardens. Mayday started as an outro to Flourish or ‘Spring’ as it was titled originally. The idea was a segueway into the summer section to represent the sort of collective excitement a city gets once it realises summer is here."

            The summer of Jack's diary inspired 'Halo'. “Wanstead Flats where I live, change a lot in the summer; a haze descends on them instead of the spring mist and the city's proximity is more apparent. Blue bags of empty cans and scorched grass from out of control barbeques.” Arnulf Lindner on double-bass recalls the playing of Danny Thompson with Jeff Tobias' wonderfully lyrical saxophone referencing Pharoah Sanders. On ‘Harvest’ Jack takes a backseat with Kayla Cohen of Itasca singing. “All these songs are in the same key but the melody was above my range. I'd been playing the new Itasca record all the time and just reached out. The economy with which she sings is perfect.”

            “The intention with the record was for it to feel like a circle, so Wynter reflects the opening. I guess having to get up and flip the record destroys the illusion so it's a rare occasion where listening with the ability to just loop the album into another year is closer to our intention.”

            ‘Annual’ then acts both like a companion piece to the band’s ‘How To Live’ debut but also a pointer to the paths ahead. Cooper has already started work on the next album, his speed of output an indication of the excitement and creativity that surrounds the project. Who will be involved and what the touchstones might be are yet to be firmly established but then who would have it any other way with this most fascinatingly free-flowing and mutable of groups? 


            TRACK LISTING

            1 Dawn
            2 Flourish
            3 Mayday
            4 Halo
            5 Harvest
            6 Ritual
            7 Wynter

            The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies - but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric. The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” - such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

            On Modern Nature’s debut album, ‘How To Live’, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents, placing the record somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle between the expansive motorik of Can, the Canterbury progressiveness of Caravan and the burgeoning experimentalism of Talk Talk’s ‘Colour Of Spring’.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Having penned a succession of hazy, indie-rock affairs, Jack Cooper (formerly of Manchester's own Trof fame) breaks out a beautiful folky wanderer, heavy on reverb and drifting guitar ambience, but maintaining the melodic leaning that has earned him so many delighted fans. This is beautiful work, and possibly my favourite of his considerable output.

            TRACK LISTING

            Bloom
            Footsteps
            Turbulence
            Criminals
            Séance
            Nightmares
            Peradam
            Oracle
            Nature
            Devotee


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