Kopy, “Heart Fresh”
By Jon Dale · April 02, 2024 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

Heart Fresh, the debut full-length by Japanese producer Yuko Kureyama, isn’t given to overstatement or wasted energy. This is true of Kureyama’s musical output so far, really. She hasn’t released much music as KOPY—one 12-inch EP (2021’s Eternal), two digital EPs via Bandcamp (KOPY and KOPY 2, both from 2020), and a split LP with fellow Japanese artist Tentenko (Super Mild, 2019)—making for a discography that suggests both a sure sense of quality control and a considered arc to her creative output.

It’s easy enough to hear those qualities in Kureyama’s compositions. While the songs tend to only do one or two things, they invariably do everything well. And there’s much to be said for the attention to discrete detail; one gesture often expands out to allow for multiple perspectives. In part, this seeming simplicity comes from the instrumental limitations that Kureyama embraces on Heart Fresh, using only a rhythm machine and mini-sampler for the entire album.

One of the more remarkable things about Heart Fresh is the tactility of the music, as though Kureyama has grabbed hold of the sounds like tangible objects and is molding and morphing them with her hands, experiencing the haptic potential of textures and resonances. It’s not exactly rhizomic, but much of the music on Heart Fresh suggests development that more clearly analogies natural processes than the structures of software.

Within that, though, there’s a febrile energy at play. “Night Sarkas” lets three patterns fall in and out of alignment: the impatient patter of electronic tabla; a repetitive phrase for glinting keys; a rush of implacable texture that often sounds as though it’s introverting on itself, fast-forwarding like a malfunctioning tape deck. An insistent bass drum, close and concussive, drives it, inexorably, to conclusion. These kinds of juxtapositions are core to Heart Fresh, whether it’s the elevator patterns that ascend and descend through “New Walk,” or the clamorous clatter of “Hole Hole”; there are hints of footwork’s influence in the rhythm programming, maybe, and hints of the clamor of glitch in the way “TIR TONE” constructs teetering edifices from capsizing electronic.

Admittedly, there’s not much in the way of respite, but that feels strangely welcome; Heart Fresh never gets lost in longueurs. Its exploratory vision is matched by its capacity to find the right way to say what needs to be said, and while it runs at a decent clip, it never feels impatient; rather, Heart Fresh is an album that cuts to the chase.

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