Modern Nature


Modern Nature who take their name from the late film director Derek Jarman’s garden diaries arrive at Manchester’s Yes venue on the back of their recently released debut album ‘How to Live’. A flowing and at time meditative record which is destined to feature in many end of year critic lists.

The band formed around Jack Cooper a member of former Mancunian indie favourites The Beep Seals, Mazes and more recently, the Velvets inspired Ultimate Painting and current Beak keyboard maestro Will Young and they are also accompanied by Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias on saxophone for their first proper UK tour.

Prior to Modern Nature’s set XAM Duo provide an intriguing ambient set and remind me of a long lost 80s film soundtrack filtered through heavy narcotics and I for one will definitely be checking them out further.

Modern Nature then shuffle on stage to opening album instrumental ‘Bloom’ which segues beautifully into the new records highlight Footsteps with its repetitive krautrock keys, jangling guitars punctuated with Tobias’s excellent saxophone which on the dimly lit stage provides an absorbing centre point to the band as he adds rich jazz texture to the subtle flowing melody.

‘Criminals’ soon follows with its haunting keyboard refrain and Cooper’s delicate vocals sweetly sings of flying free and is typical of the bittersweet beauty the record contains. ‘Séance’ then follows with Cooper’s staccato guitar and Young’s dissonant keys. Cooper then requests more lighting on the stage as they can’t see the audience, which is swiftly followed by Young joking that he can’t even see the band! Yep it’s pretty dark in the Yes basement but still a cracking venue!

‘Paradam’ with its filmic keys akin to long lost Can track with its name apparently originating from René Daumal’s novel Mount Analogue, which was the source for Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain. ‘Peradam’ is an object, which is revealed only when someone knows they are seeking it. The song according to Cooper is about, “striving for something but not knowing what that something is and feeling like whatever it is might be unattainable anyway. A futile quest or some kind of circular dream”. It is a song typical of the undercurrent of yearning which flows throughout the album.

The band end with ‘Devotee’ with its hushed beginnings rising to Will Young’s almost funky organ outro. They quite wisely decide to avoid a clichéd exit before their encore deciding to play after a few jovial shouts for an encore from the crowd, the sprawling ‘Supernature’. This in many ways epitomises Modern Nature with its references to the natural world cut through with the jagged saxophone to mix the rural with the eerie. It’s a fine combination which suits the band well and I’ll be intrigued to see what follows from this excellent collective.

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Jonathan Roby

Overgrown indie kid with a penchant for americana, psych and weird folk.