Anastasia Coope leads us to a whimsical place on “Mattered and Sworn”

Anastasia Coope’s new single “Mattered and Sworn” is a softer, more whimsical take on her surreal, psychedelic folk sound.

Anastasia Coope is a painting student at the Pratt Institute in New York, and it’s clear she has a deeply conceptual approach to her art. She places her music in the legacy of Andre Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism – an artistic approach predicated on accessing the subconscious through surprising juxtaposition. This makes for a strange, intricate, creative sound. At its core, Coope’s music is lovely home-recorded folk – something like the early recordings of Weyes Blood and Jessica Pratt – but its elevated through otherworldly vocal harmonies and dense sound collage. Strange, atmospheric elements dance at the edges of her music, and her many vocal layers resonate against each other in a beautiful river of harmony.

On her debut single, the excellent “Norma Ray,” which we came out last month, Coope uses sound collage to smear together abrupt, blaring juxtapositions. On the new single “Mattered and Sworn,” the different collage elements seem more comfortable around one another, sitting in more obvious, agreeable synergy. This doesn’t lessen the surealness of the track, but it directs that surrealism towards a less disruptive, more whimsical place.

All of the song’s elements are captured with a wonderful lofi aesthetic – not the crunch and crackle of bedroom lofi producers, more the sound of an old field recorder, like a dusty audio clip you might find deep in a library database. The vocal is all compressed mouth pops and clipped eses, the saxophone is warm, wood-gain air and amber, the guitar is a long lost creek-side Sunday. It’s all reminiscent of the excellent The Lemon of Pink by The Books. It evokes a half forgotten dream of tree roots and dappled sunlight – a piece of the subconscious accessible only through brilliant surreal art.