NPR | By ART LEVY
Originally published January 25, 2022 at 1:19 PM ET
The chaos of modern life requires choices on how to live; on its new song “Performance,” the U.K. band Modern Nature chooses gentleness. Inspired by The Tempest — “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,” writes Shakespeare — Modern Nature creates its own center within the storm.
Here, the musicians draw on jazz’s dance with silence — think Chet Baker or Miles Davis, only playing the perfect notes at the perfect moment. There’s also a love of Talk Talk’s later records humming through “Performance.” The interlocking rhythm section creates a hypnotic intimacy for the trumpet and saxophone to weave through, building through repetition. The song responds to the alarming disconnect at the heart of the pandemic: profits soaring for big business while thousands get sick or die every day. Songwriter Jack Cooper is a quiet witness, singing “the roar of chaos brings a rhythm / but there’s heaven in the hills.” It sounds like Modern Nature is building its own vision of home.