Album review: Modern Nature – How To Live

modern nature
Source: album artwork

Words by Lady Godiva

Pursuing his musical ventures with familiar companion Will Young (Beak>), Jack Cooper from the former indie rock supergroup Ultimate Painting is back with a more introspective outfit, expanding his canvas with a collection of beguiling sonic tapestries, wrapped in bottomless melancholy. A very fitting autumnal record which insinuates itself into your psyche and takes pride of place in your comfort zone, if one is fond of whispering velvet-like vocals and song patterns layered like a soft but deeply embroidered quilt. Modern Nature calls upon the listener’s vulnerability and makes the latter a blessing, penetrating that secret diary inside your head. Artists endowed with that ability are few and far between but of the seminal kind, Nick Drake and Elliott Smith being striking examples.

How To Live is a journey from the daunting vibrations of the city to the soothing pastoral, a love letter to bucolic landscapes, derelict buildings, walks in the rain, crisp orange leaves and chai latte. A cozy, heartfelt and intellectually stimulating mosaic of a record, woven with subtle intricacies where a jazzy saxophone catches you off guard, bringing some edge to a melodic daydream. Folklore revisited in a cleverly dissonant incarnation that grows on the listener thanks to its combined romantic depth and funky originality.

Modern-Nature-by-James-Sharp-1024x569
Modern Nature. Photograph by James Sharp

This sounds like nothing you have heard recently but it is crafted in patchwork layers of genres that span over decades and ring familiar, from folk to krautrock. A sprawling and meditative UFO of vivid sensations and thought provoking mental pictures that covers its tracks to gradually hypnotize you with its stream of consciousness.

“Peradam”, a reference to para-surrealist writer/poet René Daumal’s 1952 novel, Mount Analogue, is a highlight of abysmal beauty. Peradams were true crystals, harder than diamonds and were the only currency accepted by mountain guides. They were found on the rough and dangerous trails up the Mount. Cooper sings that they don’t have any peradams – they have actually mastered the perilous quest of making a memorable debut record which sounds far more unusual than the vast spectrum of radio-friendly current rock releases. A powerful antidote to seasonal blues and a felicitous delight for autumn lovers. To savor compulsively.

Purchase How To Live here.

Available digitally, as CD with pull-out poster and on 180g teal green vinyl.

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