Modern Nature, the UK-based group led by former Ultimate Painting singer/guitarist Jack Cooper, wrapped up their U.S. tour in support of their debut album in January, and have already announced a new record, Annual, which will be out in June. (Pre-order yours.) You can check out the contemplative, spring-like "Flourish" from that forthcoming mini-album below.
Like all of us, Jack is cooped up at home, sitting out the coronavirus, which brought an early end to Modern Nature's European tour. (They have lots of merch from it to buy, like some very nice ball caps, if you want to help out.) We checked in with him to see how he's keeping busy, and he gave us a list of records he's listening to, TV shows and movies he's watching, books he's reading and new skills he's working on. Check out his list, complete with commentary, below.
JACK COOPER (MODERN NATURE) - WHAT I'M DOING DURING COVID-19 SELF-ISOLATION
Steve Tibbetts - Life Of (ECM Records)
I’ve been home from a cancelled tour for 10 days at this point and haven’t left the house bar a daily walk to the forest at the end of our road and a couple of trips to my studio space to pick up some equipment. I’m at home most of the time anyway so the situation hasn’t affected me too much inwardly but I’ve been trying to limit my news intake to a couple of times a day to keep myself sane. This record ‘Life Of’ by Steve Tibbetts is what I’m craving at the moment. Very good late night ‘trying not to stare into the abyss’ listening.
Succession (HBO series)
After seeing Amazon crowdfunding to pay their workers, I finally decided to cancel my stupid Prime subscription and a couple of other things, so I’ve been proudly streaming Succession on a legally dubious website. Clicking through a few ads is fine by me. Succession makes me feel weird, though, and I’m glad I’ve finished it.
Noam Chomsky - Fateful Triangle
I’ve been reading this on and off for a year but now seems as good a time as any to persevere and finish it. Fateful Triangle is Chomsky’s analysis of the Middle East since the formation of the state of Israel up until about 1999, so pre 9/11. It’s definitely not a distraction from the current crisis in any way but does provide some perspective and context. A lot of the planet is in turmoil most of the time and we’re being asked to stay at home (obviously there’s a lot more to it). Saying that, I spoke to my 93 year old grandma yesterday who lived through the blitz and she said this is worse because she could “still go to the shops during the war!”
Learning The Trumpet
I asked my wife for a trumpet for my birthday in February. I started learning before going away but any stamina in my lips disappeared, so I’m just getting into it again now and have begun making some inroads. It’s more difficult than I ever would’ve imagined, but the similarities to singing are helping.
The Gil Evans Orchestra - Great Jazz Standards (World Pacific Records)
I bought this from Technique Records in Miami recently and have listened a lot since I’ve been home from touring. I’m not sure I can add anything to the consensus that Gil Evans was a genius but it’s great having the time at the moment to actually play and listen to records and these recordings need no distractions.
The Trip To Greece (TV series)
There’s something otherworldly about watching two people joking around in beautiful surroundings at the moment but The Trip always feels reassuring. I’m not sure this season is quite as good and Rob Brydon has become more and more annoying as the show’s gone on but it’s worth it for Steve Coogan’s impression of Ray Winstone as Henry VIII and his stop-motion Godzilla.
I was halfway through writing a record before all this kicked off, so I’m trying to finish that off in the hope that I can start meeting up with Jim before too long and begin arranging songs. We have a project between the various band members that we’re working on remotely that hopefully we’ll be able to put out digitally over the next few weeks. The idea is some open ended music that anyone out there can be become involved in if they like, so watch out for that.
Bill Orcutt - Bill Orcutt (Palilialia)
In A Silent Way is my favourite Miles Davis LP and the feel of that record is nearly impossible to find elsewhere. I think John McLaughlin’s ‘My Goals Beyond’ is close but this Bill Orcutt record from 2017 is even closer.
Izzy Johnson - Earth Tones
My friend Izzy Johnson has made this incredible record which I hope people get to hear soon. Izzy was in a band called Meshes who played a show with Ultimate Painting a few years back, we stayed in touch and became friends. She played with us recently in Detroit and has since finished this record which I’ve been playing a lot. It’s somewhere between John Fahey and Victorialand Cocteau Twins. So good!