Modern Nature arrive in town on the back of their debut album and Getintothis’ Simon Kirk is at The Shipping Forecast to see what all the fuss is about.
Walking up Duke Street and with the nights well and truly pulling in, that autumnal chill begins to fill the air. Yes, folks – winter is coming and it doesn’t feel the greatest.
For some reason, the colder months generally work in tandem with more bands coming to town in the lead up to the year’s end and tonight Modern Nature are one of them.
When Ultimate Painting abruptly called an end to their tenure, even officially shelving plans to release their fourth album, Up! (don’t worry though, music nerds, it’s out there somewhere), it left many people scratching their heads.
Jack Cooper took no time in assembling a new project and while releasing his solo LP, Sandgrown back in 2017, Modern Nature seems to be his new focal point.
Joined by Will Young of BEAK> on synths/keys, Jeff Tobias of Sunwatchers on saxophone, and Jim Wallace – who is taking over drumming duties for Aaron Nevue of Getintothis favourites, Woods, Modern Nature are here on the back of their very well received debut album, How To Live, released in August through the brilliant Bella Union label.
How To Live is a tough listen to penetrate. You have to be in a certain time and place to properly digest this set of tracks which has been described as “contemporary wind chamber music”. Hmm. Okay…
First, though, up and coming local act, Alex Teleko, takes the stage behind his trusty synth. Done up in charity shop business attire, Teleko‘s delivery of ’80s inspired motorik synths is somewhat of a throwback. There’s subtle cynicism that penetrates through his music and the small crowd that have gathered seem keen for the most part. There’s probably more to come from Teleko in the future.
After a short interval, Modern Nature nonchalantly enter the stage.
They play How To Live in album sequence, which is quite a rarity these days for new bands releasing new music.
Footsteps is packed with motorik skinny avant-garde meanderings, brought more to life with Tobias’ wild saxophones.
Modern Nature at Bristol's Louisiana… nobody quite like them right now, so good! pic.twitter.com/F5TtLNCP4E
— Ant ★ Mixless (@mixless) September 21, 2019
Young‘s eerie drones simmer underneath Cooper‘s guitars and Wallace‘s syncopated drum beats on Turbulence and Criminals – both sleepy traipses not a world away from something Jason Pierce of Spiritualized could have written in his earlier days.
Apart from the swelling jam that is Nature, the back end of How To Live feels vastly different to front.
The intangible sprawl of Nightmares, the downright gorgeous album highlight in Peradam, Oracle and closing number, Devotee, all feel aligned to a soundtrack for someone walking up to the path that leads to the gates of heaven. There’s an unsettling finality to these tracks, which feel as if they’ve been placed at the back end of the album for a reason.
Rather than leave the stage and return for an encore, Cooper tells his band mates to stay and launch into closing number, Supernature from the eponymous debut EP. It’s a standalone piece, spearheaded by Tobias’ twelve minute skronk wig-out that is very much removed from the rest of the set.
Cooper humbly and genuinely thanks the small crowd that have gathered at The Shipping Forecast and before long he and the rest of the band exit the stage.
It’s a strong performance. Very strong, in fact. This mash up of musicians derive from different music backgrounds and to coexist onstage and roll out the type of music they do with such ease, well, that in itself is a feat.
Whilst having slight reservations on How To Live before the night, after seeing these songs interpreted live, Modern Nature are certainly one of a kind, producing an off-kilter cinematic ambience that quite frankly, I’ve never heard before. A blissed out journey to endure in the clouds.
Images by Getintothis’ John Middleton