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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2019 | Bella Union

Following the 2018 demise of his previous outfit, Ultimate Painting, London-based singer/songwriter Jack Cooper wasted little time launching a new project, this time moving away from jangling guitar pop and into a more cerebral, folk-inspired territory. With his creative partner Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs), and a handful of co-conspirators including Woods drummer Aaron Neveu, Sunwatchers saxophonist Jeff Tobias, and in-demand session cellist Rupert Gillett, he formed Modern Nature, an exploratory ensemble that harkens back to eccentric '60s forebears like Pentangle and Fairport Convention, two progressive folk-based bands intent on taking British traditions somewhere new. Naming themselves after film director Derek Jarman's diaries about gardening, Modern Nature signed with Bella Union and recorded their four-song debut EP, Nature. Curiously structured and meandering in tone, Nature sounds very much like a band in self-discovery mode, testing their parameters and seeing what works. Opening track "Nature" is the closest Modern Nature ever get to straight-ahead rock music, pairing an angular electric guitar riff over a propulsive groove punctuated by Cooper's half-whispered incantations. With evocative lines like "mist hangs on the heath," the ethereal "Flats" drifts gently along on pillows of droning cello and saxophone, setting the table for the group's similarly arranged rendition of the traditional Irish ballad "Blackwaterside," a song made famous in the late '60s by Pentangle guitarist Bert Jansch. A lightly psychedelic jazz streak informs the entire affair thanks in part to Tobias' nimble improvisations, which go head to head with Gillett's agile cello work on the 11-minute closer "Supernature." It's a welcome direction for Cooper to take and while Modern Nature show plenty of promise on this relatively small serving, it seems like they would be most at home on a full-length release, stretching out and letting their whims carry them. ~ Timothy Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 12, 2019 | Bella Union