Modern Nature Present “Island Of Noise”

Modern Nature today announce news of a new album, Island Of Noise, released 19th November via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The album will be released only as a deluxe double vinyl box set with a second companion LP titled Island Of Silence: a beautiful instrumental reimagining of the record. The album will be released – using only sustainable material – on 180g vinyl complete with a lavish booklet featuring the work of ten other artists, including Booker-nominated poet Robin Robertson, mycologist Merlin Sheldrake, illustrator Sophy Hollington, musician Eugene Chadbourne and writer Richard King, that reinterpret, deconstruct or take inspiration from the ten tracks on the record.

Modern Nature have also shared a trailer for an accompanying film of the album. Around the release there will be four exclusive screenings of this around the country in partnership with Caught by the River, followed by Q&A’s with frontman Jack Cooper (full details below). Of the film, Cooper says: 

“We listen to music in lots of different circumstances, but it’s increasingly rare to sit down and listen to an album without distractions, so that was really the initial aim with this film; to make something that could focus one’s attention on the music. When Conan Roberts and I started filming it at the start of the year, it quickly took on a life of its own as it built on one of the album’s main themes; finding order within chaos. Then as the year panned out, a narrative emerged with a country re-emerging from the pandemic.”

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, one full length LP, last year’s mini-album Annual, one 7” and three live cassettes, as well as the minimalist system music of this year’s Tributaries LP on Astral Spirits – in the process mapping out astonishing new terrain. 

Island Of Noise presents an obvious new peak in his discography, combining Cooper’s celebrated songwriting and compositional skills with a free flowing expansiveness coloured by British free music luminaries such as saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Alexander Hawkins, bassist John Edwards and violinist Alison Cotton, as well as long-term collaborators Jeff Tobias and Jim Wallis.

“Island Of Noise” Film screenings:

Monday 15th November – The Social, London tickets

Film screening followed by a conversation between Jack Cooper and Emma Warren

Friday 19th November – The Royal Oak, Lewes tickets

Film screening followed by a conversation between Jack Cooper and Ricard Norris

Saturday 20th November – The Friendly Bar, Bristol tickets

Film screening followed by a conversation between Jack Cooper and Richard King

Saturday 28th November – The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge tickets

Film screening followed by a conversation between Jack Cooper and Elizabeth Alker + a screening of Tommy Perlman’s film made to accompany Andrew Wasylyk’s album ‘Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia’ 

“Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”

On re-reading The Tempest in 2019, Cooper was moved to write this quote on the wall of his workshop and doing so sparked the initial ideas and activity that culminated in this record. The short quote, part of a longer passage spoken by Caliban, “summed up what I was thinking about at the time, from the nature of music, noise and silence, to the chaos and confusion that seemed impossible to navigate.” says Cooper.

The rich imagery and themes of The Tempest have long been a springboard for artists, from Derek Jarman’s unnerving adaptation and Sibelius’ Stormen to Jackson Pollock’s Full Fathom Five, but it was the setting of an island and the insular framework it represented that appealed as a way of elaborating on the musical and lyrical themes Modern Nature has been exploring since their first record in 2019.

“I imagined the island’s landscape and how it would change and shift through the record. My guitar, Jim Wallis’ drums and John Edwards’ bass would represent a slowly evolving landscape that would provide the bedrock for the other instruments to colour. The forests, the valleys and the life would be represented by an orchestra of improvisers and classical musicians, working around certain modes and composed melodies.”

Standing in the edgelands, where the concrete meets the forest; the island’s story is told through the eyes of an outsider, arriving and trying to make sense of the mystery and chaos. What do they make of the island’s systems, its customs, the inhabitants and their beliefs. How would an outsider interpret the inequality and divide? Where would they find solace, compassion and friendship?

Happy Release Day Modern Nature

Today, Modern Nature release their beautiful new mini-album ‘Annual’, which is a follow up to their 2019 debut ‘How To Live’.

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?

Modern Nature share ‘Harvest’

Having last month announced their new 7-track mini-album Annual, released 5th June via Bella Union, and shared a video for lead track ‘Flourish’, today Modern Nature share a video for new single “Harvest” which features Kayla Cohen of Itasca on lead vocals. Of the track bandleader Jack Cooper says: “Harvest represents Autumn on the record and centres around rituals and superstitions. A lot of the words and ideas that became the bones of the song were written the days after a vivid experience in Lewes for Bonfire Night.” Of the video he adds: “Lockdown Britain forced us (my wife Tsouni and I) into making our directorial debut and this is the outcome. A moving snapshot of the year through the medium of everyday objects. The record moves from winter through the seasons and back to winter… We end up back where we began… It’s familiar, many of the objects are the same but everything has morphed.”

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 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.

Modern Nature announce mini album

Following their recent sold-out show at London’s Omeara, Modern Nature have announced news of a new 7-track mini-album titled Annual, released 5th June via Bella Union, and available to preorder here. The band have shared a video for lead track “Flourish”, created by visual artist Cody Ledvina.

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?

Modern Nature share How To Live? short film

Along with an announcement of new live dates in December and March, including a performance at London’s Omeara, Modern Nature today present How To Live?, a short film conceptualized by Jack Cooper. It follows their debut album, How To Live, which is out now on Bella Union. Cooper describes the film below:

“We recorded How To Live in July 2018. I’d spent the previous few months fleshing out my idea for the record, writing the songs and then Will and I built it all up in the spring. When we started tracking, we asked our friend James Sharp to come along and film us recording. I suppose there were some delusions of grandeur and a vague intention to make some kind of documentary that might help explain to people what we were aiming at. When we finished and time passed, the footage went on the back burner because we thought the album really spoke for itself. This short film and the music that accompanies it is meant to be something of a companion piece to the record… it’s nice to look back and see a snapshot of a band that had only really existed for two weeks in July 2018, before it evolved into something else.”

The richness of the ideas in the songs on How To Live is matched by the resonance of the music. The compositions of Cooper and Will Young (Beak>) gain skin and muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Neveu (Woods), and the expressive saxophone ofJeff Tobias (Sunwatchers). 

Catch Modern Nature live this year and next in Europe and North America.

Modern Nature share Nature video

Following rave reviews for their debut album, How To Live, out this week via Bella Union, and soon to head out on a headline UK tour, Modern Nature have shared a video for the track “Nature”. Of the video director Conan Robert says: “I’d been out filming Brighton Day of Dance earlier in the year, where Morris teams from all over the country come and spend the day dancing and drinking outside various pubs. It was more out of curiosity of this slightly bizarre British tradition than anything else. Jack Cooper saw some of the footage and thought it could be a great accompaniment to one of the tracks from the album. I cut the Morris footage and then independently cut the landscape footage before compositing the two. It was more an experiment in how the two images may or may not work together, exploring the synergy of the dancers movements alongside the shapes of nature.” 

Critical acclaim for How To Live, out now on Bella Union:

“There’s a real ambition to Modern Nature’s debut album. Pastoral prog and horizon–chasing Krautrock push onwards, while organ drone and saxophone add to the exploratory mood.”

Q – 4 stars ****

“An open and expansive project, manifested in a sound that lashes woody, folky textures to an insistent motorik pulse.” Uncut ­– 8/10

“A creative evolution from Cooper’s previous music, with a quiet new clarity and purpose at play.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Jack Cooper has struck gold with his latest band, finding the missing link between Fairport Convention and Kraftwerk… A quietly atmospheric, transporting collection.” The Times – 4 stars ****

“Combining pulsing motorik beats with textured, pastoral folk, Modern Nature weave their compelling magic… This is a debut to savour.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“An album that takes the listener from a tense urban first half to a more restful rural ending… They are at their best on ‘Footsteps’, a fabulous blend of vocals, motorik drums and sax.” Sunday Times

“Lovely tunes… Krautrock–ishly propulsive with the bucolic qualities of The Beatles’ Mother Nature’s Son and elsewhere recalling the otherworldly pop of Talk Talk.” Mail On Sunday – 4 stars ****

“On their smart, subdued debut, Jack Cooper and Will Young prize delicacy over punchy pop melodies, offsetting soft vocals with dissonant brass and background buzz.” The Guardian

“Blending pastoral psyche–folk with urban drones, burbling motorik melodies, and some mellow jazz skronk, the resulting late–night mix is laser–targeted for those who have Talk Talk, the Notwist and Yo La Tengo forever playlisted in their hearts… A confident, considered but above all gorgeous debut.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“Taking their cues from the tender falsetto of Nick Drake, the free-form rhythms of Alice Coltrane and the rattling guitars of Radiohead, Modern Nature’s debut is a sprawling journey through an imagined natural landscape.” The Observer 

“An endearing debut… Modern Nature feel like a long–lost cousin of Talk Talk or Wooden Shjips, as they combine simple guitars with motorik beats, soft synth pads and saxophone improvisations… Jack Cooper’s understated vocals only add to the album’s blissful allure… A compelling listen.” DIY – 4 stars ****

“Planted somewhere between Talk Talk and Tuung, the spacious arrangements, hushed vocals and dashes of saxophone and cello make their debut feel like a breath of fresh air.” Electronic Sound

“Jack Cooper and Will Young’s compositions don’t kick out the jams, they hypnotically stir them as a fortune teller would a cup of tea.” Shindig – 4 stars ****

“Takes the listener from an urban environment to rural escapism, the ten tracks here weave together pastoral ballads with gently looped guitars, Krautrock and atmospheric electronica.” Loud & Quiet