Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections

21st December 2021

It’s time once again for the annual end-of-year musings we like to call Shadows and Reflections. Today Jack Cooper looks back over the past 12 months.

For one reason or another, I hadn’t listened to Traffic in a long time. As a teenager, they were one of my favourites and I sought out everything I could about the band. I was an isolated kid in love with music and the guitar, so the idea of 4 friends living together in the middle of nowhere and playing music seemed unimaginably fun. I ordered their CDs and pored over the photos in the sleeves; gathered around the fire in their haunted cottage or gazing out over the Cotswolds. 

Late last year I met saxophonist Evan Parker to discuss him playing on our record. His curiosity had been piqued by a song on our first record called ‘Peradam’, a reference to the René Daumal novel ‘Mount Analogue’. Evan had listened and mentioned the first album reminded him of Traffic. Later, I asked him about his involvement in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble’s Karyōbin and how it came to be released on Island. The conversation weirdly came full circle. Evan suspected that it was Steve Winwood who had recommended the SME to Chris Blackwell, but had never had it confirmed. Winwood and Evan had been acquaintances around the Birmingham jazz scene and had followed his early career. I left Evan daydreaming about Steve Winwood and wondering what it would’ve looked like if he’d gone down a similar path to Evan.

A few weeks later, we moved to a small village south of Cambridge. We had grown out of our one bedroom flat and the taste of the countryside around Wanstead Flats had inspired us to stretch out into rural Essex. Over the next few months, we fell in love with our new patch; exploring the woodland, fields and streams around our house. Walks were usually soundtracked by each other but I would often walk alone as well; my head full of ideas I was working on. On the rare occasions that I took my headphones with me, the trees, mist and hills would lead me to Traffic. I’ve always wondered about that name…’Traffic’…it never seemed to fit. 

One day in the spring, I was stood on the edge of a field watching a Red Kite hovering on the haze, scouting for prey. It occurred to me how peaceful it was, so I sort of honed in on the sounds around me. To my left, the breeze rustled through the pine plantation and to my right a pheasant squawked. In England, it’s almost impossible to escape the sound humans make and from a few miles behind me, the hum of the M11 drifted on the wind. “oh right” I thought, “Traffic!”


Modern Nature’s latest record ‘Island of Noise’ is out now on vinyl, and will be released digitally in January. Read Richard King’s review here.

Rydalwater Parts 1 & 2′, a 10-minute improvised guitar composition by Jack, was released over two sides of a 7″ on our Rivertones label earlier this year.