Having recently announced the release of their debut album How To Live, available 23rd August via Bella Union, along with news of a headline UK tour in September, Modern Nature have today shared a video for new single “Footsteps”. Of the video director Jake McGowan says: “The film takes place in a day, or is it a week or year or… the cyclical monotony of life and the strides we take to better our selves, our living conditions. Simultaneously seeking isolation and stimulation. Often out of body sometimes punctuated by your own internal film sequences and flashbacks. Sometimes we need a refresh, a cleanse, to bring us back to some kind of reality.”
Modern Nature frontman Jack Cooper adds: “One of the threads through the album is a journey from the chaos of the city to the sanctuary of the country, so we wanted to condense that idea down over the course of Footsteps with the final scene being a baptism… washing everything away. There were a few films that felt very present when writing the album, so there’s some references to Mike Leigh’s Naked, Withnail and I, Tales From A Hard City, Emily Lloyd in Wish You Were Here and The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin.”
Modern Nature’s music has been described as “compelling” by MOJO, “auspicious” by Uncut and “magical” by Shindig magazine, while in a recent One To Watch feature the Observer said: “Taking their cues from the tender falsetto of English folkman Nick Drake, the free-form rhythms of Alice Coltrane and the rattling guitars of Radiohead, Modern Nature’s debut EP is a sprawling journey through an imagined natural landscape.”
Modern Nature will be performing at festivals including Port Eliot and Green Man over the summer, and recently announced news of a headline UK tour in September. Full dates here.
Having recently announced the release of their debut album How To Live, available 23rd August via Bella Union, and shared a video to lead track “Peradam”, Modern Nature have today announced news of a UK headline tour in September. The band will also be performing at festivals including Port Eliot, Green Man and Freakender over the next few months.
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 and Will Young’s minds when they named their new band Modern Nature. They 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 between the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs and the atmoshperic waves of Harmonia.
Throughout this continuous work, where no song ever really seems to end, there’s an indelible feeling of constant forward motion. It’s as if the band is laying down a railway and riding it simultaneously, and you can hear all kinds of landscapes passing by.
The endless feel of How to Live was inspired by Cooper’s experience making his 2017 solo album Sandgrown. It was the first time he made a record with a defined theme – a suite of songs about his hometown of Blackpool – and imposing a narrative framework turned out to be refreshingly liberating. “When I started thinking about a new project,” he recalls, “going back to making an album of unconnected songs seemed as strange as making a movie with completely unconnected scenes.”
As he began writing songs, Cooper was also tuning to the vibes of Earth Loop, an instrumental solo album by BEAK>’s Will Young (under the name Moon Gangs). For a long time, Cooper had hoped to work more with Young, who almost joined his first band, Mazes, and was in the touring version of his next group, Ultimate Painting. So he decided now was finally the time, as he puts it, “to make good on hundreds of late night ‘we should really do music together’ conversations.”
“Over the next few weeks I started sending Will songs, and we began meeting up, working on ideas and formulating the bigger picture as it were,” Cooper recalls. “Approaching the album as a film or play made complete sense, and from that came the idea to have a very defined narrative, reoccurring themes and chord progressions, field recordings and a set palette of instruments and sounds. Each song came with pages and pages of notes, musical references, films, books, places, words and feelings.”
The richness of the ideas in these songs is matched by the resonance of the music. Cooper and Young’s organic compositions gain muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Neveu (of compatriot outfit Woods), and the expressive saxophone of Jeff Tobias, from Brooklyn jazz/rock juggernaut Sunwatchers. Each track on How to Live evolved as these creative forces joined the group, and it shows. The entire album courses with both precision and vitality, and is a work of surprising layers and limitless depths. Modern Nature may have been inspired by the line between urban and rural, but with How To Live they’ve gone a step further, and created their own complete world.
How To Live will bereleased 23rd August via Bella Union.
Today sees London’s Modern Nature release their debut EP ‘Nature’. Modern Nature – the name taken from the title of Derek Jarman’s garden diaries – is the new project of Jack Cooper, ex of Ultimate Painting / Mazes and Will Young of Beak featuring Aaron Neveu of Woods and Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias on saxophone.
Previously the band shared the sprawling ‘Supernature’, an intimately atmospheric, wildly expansive 12-minute statement of intent a world away from anything any of the members have made before. It melds the relentless rhythms of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music with the pastoral haze of Fairport Convention.
As Jack Cooper explains: “The EP is based around a song called ‘Nature’ so ‘Supernature’ is a different perspective on the EP’s title track, but taken to another conclusion. It’s our most recent recording and there seems to be some sense in people hearing that first. ‘Nature’ is our take on that propulsive rhythm of A Sailor’s Life-era Fairport Convention but ‘Supernature’ is something else entirely. The band is so new, it’s hard to say who’s in and who isn’t. At the moment it’s myself and Will Young (Beak) with Aaron Neveu on drums (Woods/Herbcraft) Rupert Gillett on cello and then Jeff Tobias on saxophone (Sunwatchers). The band started as a vehicle for a wider project that Will and I spent the year putting together so it feels very exciting to be an actual band now. Every song we record or musician we gain, another door seems to open on a route that’s worth pursuing.”
Modern Nature’s first live date will be at London’s St Pancras Old Church on Monday 8th April. Tickets available here.