Release Date: Oct 28, 2014
Record label: Trouble in Mind
Jack Cooper and James Hoare have history with two of Britain’s best traditionalist indie bands, Mazes and Veronica Falls respectively. So it’s hardly surprising that their album together as Ultimate Painting doesn’t exactly crash through sonic barriers in its quest for musical novelty, relying instead on a familiar model: the third Velvet Underground album, with a dash, perhaps, of Young Marble Giants. The playing is precise, subdued and autumnal; voices are hushed and expressionless, in those muted two-part harmonies familiar from thousands of indie albums in this lineage.
Ultimate Painting is a very simpatico collaboration between James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes. The two guitarists met while their groups were touring and decided to get together to make some resolutely analog music. Sometimes when people work apart from their main bands, they decide to try out new things. Not so much in this case.
Ultimate Painting is the side project of James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes, a pairing that combines Hoare’s knack for bubblegum indie pop and Cooper’s off-kilter guitar licks brilliantly. Coming almost out of nowhere with their self-titled debut, ‘Ultimate Painting’ is a pleasantly surprising record of straightforward yet gorgeously constructed pop songs that breeze by as elegantly as the inevitable cool autumn wind. Those who’ve enjoyed either of the pair’s work in the past will feel right at home here, as spritely, sidewinding riffs and an overbearing sense of haze take hold for just over half a blissful hour.
Veronica Falls and Mazes. Mazes and Veronica Falls. For those of us whose knowledge of these two acts extended little further than listening to and enjoying their music, this collaborative record between Jack Cooper and James Hoare, under the moniker Ultimate Painting, will be a surprise – a pleasant one at that. The melding of their two distinctive styles is equally pleasant; so is the entirely analogue production, the good ol’ fashioned DIY split cassette spirit and the album art.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Good Pop music can be deceptively simple. Should be, even. For all the vagaries of fashion and technology, certain brand staples still guarantee some degree of success if they can be reproduced with feeling, and if they manage to avoid outstaying their welcome.
A collaboration between Veronica Falls’ James Hoare and Mazes’ Jack Cooper, Ultimate Painting took their name from a beautifully colourful piece of art that emerged from the unusual, mid-1960s American avant-garde collective Drop City (check it out). “Ultimate Painting is a band from earth”, announces their web presence statement in case anyone’s struggling. The earthlings first knew each other from attending the same gigs, and then became closer when Mazes supported Veronica Falls on a European tour.
As Ultimate Painting, UK duo Jack Cooper and James Hoare dive into influences and pursue whims they aren’t able to in their other bands. Cooper’s work in Mazes draws upon ’90s American indie rock, referencing acts like Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, and Yo La Tengo in the their latest album, Wooden Aquarium. On the other hand, Hoare and his partner Roxanne Clifford explore wistful C86-jangle as Veronica Falls, while his other project The Proper Ornaments examine the breezy textures of Paisley Underground.
Ours is the age of the collaboration. Of two mutual appreciators of each other’s work joining forces, knocking their creative heads together and unleashing a fresh new sonic project, informed by their respective idiosyncrasies, into the world. But, in recent times, this type of artistic union has been sullied. In order to enjoy every inspiring partnership - St Vincent’s fruitful liaison with David Byrne but one sterling example - we must suffer through the pain of listening to the latest BBC Sound-endorsed wunderkind wrap their processed vocals around yet more of Calvin Harris’ rent-a-rave chart fodder.