Posts Tagged ‘Ultimate Painting’

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The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies – but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric.

The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” – such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

On Modern Nature’s debut album, “How to Live”, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents. Throughout this continuous work, where no song ever really seems to end, there’s an indelible feeling of constant forward motion. It’s as if the band is laying down a railway and riding it simultaneously, and you can hear all kinds of landscapes passing by.

The endless feel of c was inspired by Cooper’s experience making his 2017 solo album Sandgrown. It was the first time he made a record with a defined theme – a suite of songs about his hometown of Blackpool – and imposing a narrative framework turned out to be refreshingly liberating. “When I started thinking about a new project,” he recalls, “going back to making an album of unconnected songs seemed as strange as making a movie with completely unconnected scenes.”

As he began writing songs, Cooper was also tuning to the vibes of Earth Loop, an instrumental solo album by BEAK>’s Will Young (under the name Moon Gangs). For a long time, Cooper had hoped to work more with Young, who almost joined his first band, Mazes, and was in the touring version of his next group, Ultimate Painting. So he decided now was finally the time, as he puts it, “to make good on hundreds of late night ‘we should really do music together’ conversations.”

“Over the next few weeks I started sending Will songs, and we began meeting up, working on ideas and formulating the bigger picture as it were,” Cooper recalls. “Approaching the album as a film or play made complete sense, and from that came the idea to have a very defined narrative, reoccurring themes and chord progressions, field recordings and a set palette of instruments and sounds. Each song came with pages and pages of notes, musical references, films, books, places, words and feelings.”

Cooper is hesitant to explain too much about How To Live’s story, preferring to let the listener to find his or her own narrative to fit what they hear. But he can offer some guideposts. “Broadly speaking, the album moves from an urban environment at the beginning to an escape at the end…whether that’s solitude or acceptance or isolation,” he says. “At the beginning the songs reflect a different type of isolation, the sort of isolation or disassociation one can only feel in a very crowded, hectic environment.”

The vibrations of these environments come across immediately on How To Live. The album’s first line is “There’s a hum in the street,” and the rest of the hypnotic “Footsteps” masterfully paints a picture: “the click repeats, repeats, repeats”….”Isolation, repetition, spark burst fission”…”turns loops to the point in which they meet.”

Throughout the remainder of the record, ideas recur and sounds return, often forming new shapes. A careful guitar pattern sprouts into the halting “Seance”, which ends with that same guitar pattern flipped into reverse. The beatific “Peradam” revels in the cycles of nature, as Cooper asks to be led “out of spirit worlds, let it whirl, out and in, swirling like fireflies. The pulsing “Nature” takes a darker view of our current environment, calling it “the great failure” and concluding with the imperative to “lock them up and don’t forgive them.”

The richness of the ideas in these songs is matched by the resonance of the music. Cooper and Young’s organic compositions gain skin and muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Nevue (of compatriot outfit Woods), and the expressive saxophone of Jeff Tobias, from Brooklyn jazz/rock juggernaut Sunwatchers. Each track on How to Live evolved as these creative forces joined the group, and it shows. The entirety of How To Live courses with both precision and vitality. The band is closely tuned to the core of each piece, but also unafraid to throw themselves into every moment.

The care that went into How To Live is clear in album notes, which map out impressionistic ideas behind each step – one block describes the song “Nightmare” as “the calm after the storm, nihilism, acceptance!! HOW TO LIVE??” – and include a list of the music and film that inspire Modern Nature. You can hear traces of those influences throughout the album – the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs, the searching melodies of Robert Wyatt, the atmospheric waves of Harmonia.

But ultimately, the music on How to Live speaks for itself. It’s a work of surprising layers and limitless depths, impressing more strongly with each listen. Modern Nature may have been inspired by the line between urban and rural, but with How To Live they’ve gone a step further, and created their own complete world.

the debut album by Modern Nature‘How To Live’

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Modern Nature, the new band from Jack Cooper (Ultimate Painting, Mazes) and Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs), will release their debut album later hits later this month, and they’ve just shared the video for the gently motoroik new single “Footsteps.” Directed by Jake McGowan, the video follows Jack as the camera flips over and over, changing scenes along the way. “One of the threads through the album is a journey from the chaos of the city to the sanctuary of the country, so we wanted to condense that idea down over the course of ‘Footsteps’ with the final scene being a baptism… washing everything away,” says Jack. “There were a few films that felt very present when writing the album, so there’s some references to Mike Leigh’s Naked, Withnail And I, Tales From A Hard City, Emily Lloyd in Wish You Were Here and The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin.”

Taken from the new album ‘How To Live’ released on 23rd August via Bella Union Records

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The London band Ultimate Painting were set to release a follow up to 2016’s well-received album “Dusk” via Bella Union but the band split up  the album was cancelled the release of new the record which was entitled Up! may never see the light of day.

“I’m very sad to announce that Ultimate Painting are no longer a band,” the band wrote in a statement on Facebook. “Anyone who has worked with us knows that the partnership at the core of this band has always been a very fragile thing, but due to an irreconcilable breakdown we will no longer be working with each other.

“Obviously if there’s no band, then it’s understandably not really in Bella Union’s interests to put out the previously announced album, therefore I’ve asked them not to release ‘Up!’ at this point in time, which they have agreed to. Thanks to everyone who bought our records and supported us. You know who you are.”

The news also results in a cancellation of tour dates that had previously been announced. Looking back, words from the band’s Jack Cooper last month signalled some disharmony: “If it ends tomorrow,” Cooper said in a press statement previously, “I’d feel really good about the work we’ve done together.

“There’s a cohesion to it but most of all they’re records that we made of music that we wanted to hear. We don’t really have an agenda other than that.”

Jack Cooper & James Hoare formed Ultimate Painting. The two had a fast friendship when Jack’s band Mazes were on tour supporting James’ band Veronica Falls, sharing similar tastes in music, art & films. It wasn’t until after returning home that a musical synergy was formed. After numerous demos were exchanged, a few casual jam sessions turned into something more; a partnership. Christening themselves after a piece of art by the Southern Colorado desert community “Drop City Collective”, the lads set to work recording their debut proper.

For the entirety of Ultimate Painting’s now tragically short run, the duo of James Hoare and Jack Cooper were routinely described within the context of their previous bands. Even in posts announcing their abrupt breakup this week, it was still “James Hoare of Veronica Falls” and “Jack Cooper of Mazes”—as if this were the side project, instead of the other way around. As if this was the band that wasn’t meant to be taken as seriously.

Ultimate Painting have been so productive, releasing one solid album every year since forming in 2014, their discography—2014’s “Ultimate Painting”, 2015’s “Green Lanes”,and 2016 “Dusk”, the wonderfully out-of-time third album by this East London’s band, and  then this year’s suddenly doomed “Up!”—represents one of the strongest four-album outputs of a rock group this side of The Velvet Underground. There isn’t a bad track in the bunch, and many of them, unassuming and glacial, are patently stunning. For my money, anyway, “Monday Morning, Somewhere Central” is among the top songs of the decade From their album “Dusk”, out now via Trouble In Mind Records

So what happened,  The new album was in the can, a UK tour was booked, a bio was written, advance promos were sent out. And then just like that, it was scrapped. Due to the usual irreconcilable breakdown,not only has the band broken up, but Up!’s release was completely cancelled as well. (Bella Union, the label set to release it, has confirmed Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like one of those LCD Soundsystem “let’s make sure we go out with a bang breakups.

For now all we can do is take them at their word that it’s over simply because they can’t work together anymore.  Either way, though, this leaves us as listeners in the precarious spot of having to carry on their legacy retroactively—but that really shouldn’t be a problem, given what’s being left behind.

Looking at it as a whole, Ultimate Painting’s music has that rare quality of being universally appropriate.

Cooper and Hoare worked off of each other so tightly and so subtly, that their interplay often leads you to wonder who’s even taking the lead on any given song. This blending might come off as a boring  and monotonous in lesser hands, but it’s a testament to their strength of their songwriting that Ultimate Painting manage to keep the vibe simultaneously light, wavy and catchy as the best paisley meditations in time and space.

Guitar lines and vocal parts intermix freely throughout, and part of the charm comes from listening to the unified sound of a true duo; on any given track, it’s truly hard to tell which member is playing/singing what—and despite this, it’s all definitively UP. Both members put out albums separately from each other in the past year—Hoare with The Proper Ornaments and Cooper with his recent solo album “Sandgrown” in August of last year and while the projects were both inspired, they felt like they were missing something. It might have been each other.

But in the interest of the band not being forgotten, it’s all but criminal to withhold the release of Up! altogether, whether digitally, physically, or both. To prevent the last recording “Up” from release is frankly bizarre, as well as a tremendous disservice to those who would enjoy it. I can only hope that someone at Bella Union is looking for the fine print in the band’s contract that allows the label to press the record regardless.

Going back to the beginning, much of Ultimate Painting’s music starts abruptly. No count-in, no riff—just straight into the vocals of the verse. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but for songwriters with a gentle touch it’s a wonderful tool to make an otherwise quiet song feel loud and direct. It also makes the song feel like it’s perpetually being performed in the present tense. That’s going to be a big asset going forward now that this catalog has to fight for itself, without press cycles, without touring, without members that even seem to believe in it themselves. Ultimate Painting have gone out with an exclamation mark.

After the autumnal melancholia of 2016’s Dusk, the title of Ultimate Painting’s fourth album suggests a band leaving the past behind and ascending to another level, and to a certain extent that is the story of this record. Now signed to Bella Union, the record is a supremely confident and, at times, a radiant example of their song-writing ability but it also masks a more turbulent story. There were plenty of times when the question was not what it would sound like but would it even exist.

By the end of 2016, Jack Cooper and James Hoare – the band’s two equal but contrasting songwriters – were burned out and unsure of their next move. Releasing three albums in three years had taken its toll and they decided to take some time out to consider their next move. A good idea in theory but as it transpired a bad one in practice, as they immediately started to second-guess what to do next. “We both initially had the idea that we wanted to make a record that had more of an electronic element,” explains James. “We thought we’d try to go slightly more in that direction. Drum machines, synths and so on.” Jack adds: “We started to question what people wanted from us and in the process, I think we briefly lost the idea of what the band was.”

The confused sessions around this time – all of which occurred in the band’s own recording studio in North London – were further hamstrung by Hoare’s ongoing issues with depression. Eventually, an enforced halt was called due to live commitments in the US and it was while they were there, sat on a bench one morning in rural Pennsylvania, that the decision was made to scrap everything. It felt liberating…

Back in the UK in summer 2017, they immediately started over and with rediscovered confidence and momentum recorded a whole new album in just two weeks. The results convey something of that effortless spark as well as a reconnection with the bands’ innate Englishness.

This isn’t the midnight-black interior world of the third Velvets’ album (to which they’ve so often been compared); it’s a record that stretches out in different directions. One minute – on Foul & Fair – drawing from the 60s Brit-folk tradition of Fairport Convention, the next on – I Am Your Gun – channelling the luminous fairground psyche of the Pretty Things or Syd Barrett. It’s also the sound of a band obsessively honing their sound. They joke that it’s the most “Ultimate Paintingy” record they’ve ever made too.

When it was all finally done, though, they both realised all their tough decisions had been vindicated. Their best record to date, albeit the one that caused the most pain and indecision – they hope it will continue their steady ascent. Jack comments: “If it ends tomorrow, I’d feel really good about the work we’ve done together. There’s a cohesion to it but most of all they’re records that we made of music that we wanted to hear. We don’t really have an agenda other than that.”

Up! was to be released 6th April via Bella Union Reords.

thanks FloodMagazine

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Ultimate Painting, the duo of Jack Cooper and James Hoare, are back with their fourth album (and first for Bella Union). After cranking out albums at a pace of one a year over three years, the boys decided to take a break. That led to some second-guessing, scrapped sessions and overall confusion on where to take this project next. Up! is where they wound up. Here’s some info on the lead track.

First single “Not Gonna Burn Myself Anymore” reflects that. Cooper says, “I wrote it in one go and disregarded it as I thought it’d come too easy or that it was too much like something I’d obviously write. Over the next few days I kept singing it to myself. Sometimes the best songs are completely spontaneous and pure. I wrote the words to reflect that… not everything worthwhile has to be hard work.”

Taken from the new Ultimate Painting album “Up!” due for release 6th April via Bella Union Records

Ultimate Painting have announced the release of Up!, a record we’re very much looking forward to, and their first for the Bella Union label. It will be out on the 6th April, They’re also heading out on tour (dates below).

The band has also shared a first track from the LP entitled, the meandering, gentle indie-psych of Not Gonna Burn Myself Anymore. Listen to it here.

Jack Cooper is a musician & songwriter living in London, England. He is currently a member of the band Ultimate Painting. “Sandgrown” is his first album as a solo artist. He says of the cover, “I was selling merch at the last show of my US tour and a guy who had bought a record told me that the live band sounded like Meddle-era Pink Floyd. In hindsight I should’ve hugged him because as far as compliments go, that’s the best I’ve ever had. I think that post-Syd and pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd were such an interesting band… weird, English, pastoral, loose, economic and occasionally perfect. I love Syd Barrett and most things up to The Wall but I think that mid-era is the most fascinating. I love recording covers and in learning this I gained some fresh perspective on simplicity.”

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Buy a copy of Jack Cooper’s solo album “Sandgrown”: www.troubleinmindrecs.com/jack-cooper-sandgrown/
Catch Jack live, on tour in the UK:

Jan. 28 – Brighton, UK @ The Hope
Jan. 29 – Bristol, UK @ Louisiana
Jan. 30 – Leeds, UK @ Oporto
Jan. 31 – Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
Feb. 1 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
Feb. 2 – London, UK @ Garage

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

Earlier this year Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper slid us an early version of his new solo album, “Sandgrown”. At nine tracks we were immediately drawn to its sparse, tranquil, yet personal offerings inspired by his hometown of Blackpool off the coast of England. The effort finds Cooper waxing nostalgic about his time growing up on the Fylde Coast and the cast of characters that come with living and working in a seasonal resort town. Often compared to the Velvets, Sandgrown finds Cooper acknowledging other influences including Terry Allen and The Grateful Dead, mixing them with the experimental textures of John Cale and Robert Wyatt.

Jack Cooper :: Blood Dries Darker (Woods)

Woods have a special place in my heart because my wife and I are both big fans and we always listen to them together. I first saw them in 2008 in Manchester and it’s been a pleasure seeing them so many times since then. This is my favourite song of theirs and although they never really play it, Jarvis dedicated it to my wife and I last time they played London. It’s a pretty perfect song.

Jack Cooper :: Lubbock Woman (Terry Allen)

Terry Allen’s Lubbock (On Everything) was a big influence in this solo album of mine. The framework of writing about a town or place opens up a world of possibilities. I’ve been writing about Blackpool since I lived there but the idea to do something centered on that was really inspired by this record and Watertown by Frank Sinatra. The words and the delivery is all about Terry, so it felt weird singing them. I scrapped the idea 4 or 5 times, before thinking ‘fuck it’… it’s a great song.

Jack Cooper :: For A While (Frank Sinatra)

Frank Sinatra’s Watertown is just the most melancholic, downbeat, comforting record I’ve ever heard. It’s his best album and his finest acting performance. Again…the delivery and words are all about him but I gave it a good shot. My friend Phil Anderson recorded some piano for me…it’s blown out and weird.

Jack Cooper :: Black Peter (Grateful Dead)

I’m not too sure why I chose this apart from being a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. Robert Hunter was on fire around this time…such rich, interesting imagery and narratives. I really can’t think of a better lyricist, and around this time in particular.

Jack Cooper :: Big Louise (Scott Walker)

Most of these songs I’ll class as misses, in that they’re all so hard to do justice too. The vocalists are way too singular and this one in particular I’ve included just for the hell of it. The phrasing and way he sings is so incredibly complicated. I couldn’t even begin to get right. I’ve listened back to all of these at some point and become to self conscious about even submitting them (laughs). I guess there’s something liberating about taking a shot at something and just going with it.

Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper released his debut solo album recently on Trouble In Mind Records.  The album “Sandgrown”, released last month via Trouble In Mind Records, is a sparse yet hypnotic listening, Its a record inspired by Cooper’s coastal hometown of Blackpool, England. Jack comments on the record ,  I think part of the reason I’ve made this record is a way of processing the past and where I am now. Like, what the hell is this? Going back to your original point, I think it references every stage of my life and the “Blackpool” of the album is just a frame in which I can tell stories, be self-indulgent and self-analytical, process memories or try and recreate places and feelings. It’s the first time I’ve sort of set myself a framework and it was weirdly liberating.

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Taken from “Sandgrown”, the debut solo album from Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper. Released August 25th, 2017 via Trouble In Mind Records 

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Image of Jack Cooper - Sandgrown

Jack Cooper of Ultimate Painting’s fi­rst solo record is 9 concisely beautiful songs inspired by his hometown of Blackpool and his upbringing on England’s Fylde Coast. “Everyone’s from somewhere,” says Jack. “I don’t think it’s particularly important people know this album is about Blackpool, but I think everyone can empathise with the themes on the record.” Evoking the delicate but often widescreen musicality of Bill Fay and the abstract lyricism of the late 60s Scott Walker records, as well as the more experimental sounds of John Cale and Robert Wyatt, Sandgrown is a collection of tranquil ballads that evoke feelings of nostalgia and re-evaluation about where you come from, wherever that may be.

Jack spent the fi­rst 13 years of his life living in the rural village of Poulton-le- Fylde, about ­ve miles outside Blackpool. On moving into town, he spent his summers as a deckchair attendant. “There were just a lot of interesting people around all the time… weirdos who were drawn to the seaside in the summer. Winter would come and you had this huge community of people who didn’t really know what to do.” By the time Jack was 15, Blackpool’s role as a holiday destination was dwindling due to the introduction of cheap air travel to Europe. Stacks of deckchairs were increasingly left unused, and in the winter months it became a place of drugs, seedy bars and people struggling to get by without the tourist trade. As the Blackpool he knew slipped away, 20-year- old Jack moved to Manchester where he began playing in bands and recording. Sandgrown is about those formative years and the creation of it – “I’ve been trying to do this record since I was about 18… I bought my ­rst 4-track with the proceeds of a summer working on the promenade and I guess I got sidetracked along the way. I’ve been listening to Terry Allen’s ‘Lubbock (On Everything)’ a lot and I wanted to make something that painted a picture of a place as vividly as that. I love how Frank Sinatra’s ‘Watertown’ feels so cinematic.”

Uninhibited by band members for the fi­rst time was a freeing experience for Cooper. “Recording on my own liberated me to sing more like I actually sing. I think I‘ve spent a long time in loud bands singing in a way that can be heard through music,” Jack says. “The songs that I wrote for Sandgrown suit my voice more than anything I’ve done before.” “I love the physicality of working on tape. I’ve always had a 4-track but I sought out a particular machine. I’m not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan but I love the sound of Nebraska… I needed that speci­c machine.

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Taken from “Sandgrown”, the debut solo album from Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper. Released August 25th, 2017 via Trouble In Mind Records.  “Sandgrown” is Jack Cooper’s first solo record with nine concisely beautiful songs inspired by his hometown of Blackpool and his upbringing on England’s Fylde Coast.

“Everyone’s from somewhere,” says Jack. “I don’t think it’s particularly important people know this album is about Blackpool, but I think everyone can empathize with the themes on the record.” Evoking the delicate but often widescreen musicality of Bill Fay and the abstract lyricism of the late 60s Scott Walker records, as well as the more experimental sounds of John Cale and Robert Wyatt, Sandgrown is a collection of tranquil ballads that evoke feelings of nostalgia and re-evaluation about where you come from, wherever that may be.

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 Sandgrown is about his formative years and the creation of it – “I’ve been trying to do this record since I was about 18… I bought my first 4-track with the proceeds of a summer working on the promenade and I guess I got sidetracked along the way. I’ve been listening to Terry Allen’s ‘Lubbock (On Everything)’ a lot and I wanted to make something that painted a picture of a place as vividly as that.

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Uninhibited by band members for the first time was a freeing experience for Cooper. “Recording on my own liberated me to sing more like I actually sing. I think I‘ve spent a long time in loud bands singing in a way that can be heard through music,” Jack says. “The songs that I wrote for Sandgrown suit my voice more than anything I’ve done before.” Working within the confines of specific 4-track cassette machine (a Teac 144.), Jack has produced his most satisfying work to date. “I love the physicality of working on tape. I’ve always had a 4-track but I sought out a particular machine. I’m not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan but I love the sound of Nebraska… I needed that specific machine.”