Album: Modern Nature – Island of Noise review

by Philip Moss

This is my truth – Jack Cooper’s alluring commotion envelops us as we journey through his reality

Throughout time, storytellers, musicians and artists alike have been inspired by the changing of the seasons. In fact, in society as a whole, the weather probably makes up 90% of small talk for folks who find themselves caught up in a room with an acquaintance for whom they have no real connection. On this third release as Modern Nature, Jack Cooper navigates further into minutiae of the elements – where connection and feel are everything.

On the record’s prologue, Tempest, it is the dance of Evan Parker’s saxophone and Cooper’s lapping guitars that bring us ashore – as an entry point to Island of Noise‘s microclimate. The musical field is very much a refinement of tone encountered on How To Live and Annual. Jim Wallis’ percussion moves with a shuffle – far, far more important than simply keeping beat – and the slides and pops of John Edwards’ bass adds flashes of colour to Cooper’s already glorious, technicolour palette. But where the latter record documented the changing of the seasons, Dunes marks the optimism of the breaking of dawn – ‘Some brave new morning – curtain rises again…’ – the care and attention placed on the vocal melodies making them every bit the equal to the alluring commotion that surrounds them.

There is almost a danceability to Performance – but while he sings of ‘chaos’ – as he reaches for an almost falsetto in the chorus, never before has the serious Cooper sounded like he is having so much fun in his work. In contrast, the relative hush of Ariel is no less enchanting, but for different reasons – its chorus the most impacting on a record brimming with the best vocals of his career to date. While, almost as a metaphor for the looping textures of Cooper’s work over the last three years, Symmetry is the perfect Modern Nature title: its irritable flutters provide space – a gasp! of breath – on this most addictive of collections.

As much a walk through the expansing nature that envelops us, as it is a stroll through Cooper’s expanding mind – his thought processes are channeled via the lens through which he sees the world. The track listing alone – a concatenation of single words – tells a version of a story. His lyrics – which could stand in their own right as poetry – tell another. This is his truth. But like the best art, the meaning that is woven deep into the rich soil of Island of Noise is open to interpretation. Having been handed over, it is now yours to decide. And it is worth spending the time in its company to find it. No small talk necessary. Jack Cooper presents the elements through a torrent of glorious, glorious noise.

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