Modern Nature: No Fixed Point In Space (Bella Union) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023  

Modern Nature

No Fixed Point In Space

Bella Union

Sep 29, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Jack Cooper (the main creative force behind Modern Nature) graces us with another helping of his wonderfully organic compositions on No Fixed Point In Space. As always, Cooper mixes up his project’s lineup, with the most notable addition here being English singer Julie Tippetts, who is some 60 years into her career. In spite of the addition of a vocalist, the album drifts further away from rock music structures into improvisational jazz and classical arrangements. Jim Wallis (drums/percussion) and Jeff Tobias (alto saxophone) return from 2021’s hypnotic Island of Noise. Never one at a loss for ideas, Cooper has Wallis extensively playing ride cymbal throughout the proceedings. Not unlike the hard bop jazz drummers of old, but here Wallis’ playing is more textural than timer. It takes a few listens to get accustomed to the approach, but ultimately Cooper’s choices solidify beautifully into what seems the only way the tracks could have been carried out.

With numerous references to daybreak and the slow rolling cycles of all things celestial, the lengthy passages that make up the album create room for the mind to contemplate the spin of the Earth as it orbits the sun. As well as the ebb and flow of days upon endless days. Opening track “Tonic” comes forth with strings and double bass as Cooper invokes a frosty day: “A murmur from the fireside, throws shadow on the winter light.” Tippetts’ more seasoned vocals tightly track to Cooper’s lead, introducing the array of components stirred into the cauldron this time around.

The beating heart of No Fixed Point In Space comes in the back-to-back tracks of “Orange” and “Cascade.” “Orange” creates a gentle tension of intermittent bass notes backed by an indistinct and low-grade percussive background of what sounds like a bowl of cowrie shells being repeatedly disturbed. Cooper again looks skyward “face in the light on an infinite circle, we’re pulled to the sun and it’s tireless rhythm.” With one of the more traditional choruses, the tension created here finds its release in the vocal refrains. “Cascade,” however, finds its own release in the rush of instrumentation and Tippetts’ intonation of the title, which fill the void between Wallis’ cymbal taps. The paired tracks make for opposite sides of the coin where Cooper evidences his ability to generate a dynamic with the simplest of ingredients—the power of Cooper’s and Tippetts’ voices or the instruments that surround them.

The album’s final track, “Ensō,” finds Tippetts taking the lead with an assuredness that echoes the Japanese ideal of enlightenment referenced by the title. The perfection of a closed circle (ensō) roughly mirrors the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the sun, but also evidences Cooper’s ability to both plot out a passage for his companions or let them journey to find their own way back home. As with all of Cooper’s post Ultimate Painting work, he has assembled a group of highly skilled musicians, created a framework for them to explore, and has let them roam and ramble in a fluid environment of their own making. No Fixed Point In Space takes this even further as the confines of traditional popular music are disassembled, much as the animals dispersing on the album’s cover convey a pushing away from the center. In the four and half years since Modern Nature’s Nature EP quietly hit the street, there is no doubt Cooper’s lava lamp morphing of notes and players has been the best thing going in music today. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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