IMAGE: CHRISTINA OWEN
Guess the life of a beloved techno artist in Portland means working just full time. But, mind you, that's working just full time in the punch-clock world: Libman also DJs about town, makes up one-third of disco outfit Do N' Dudes and runs a one-man remix factory—reworking cuts by everyone from locals Fleshtone to TLC and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. (Did a little voice inside your head just say, "Fuckin' awesome"? Well, Libman's got an entire album of Bone Thug restylings awaiting release.)
All of this leaves out the most important "job" Copy's had in the past year: making a second album of his own material—the upcoming Hair Guitar (out March 6 on Audio Dregs). And Copy's dominance of WW's last Best New Band poll (in which Portland music-industry folk vote for their favorite new local artists) may have imprinted 2006 as the year Portland "recognized" local electronic dance music. That's a heavy weight to bear when writing a follow-up album.
But it delivers. Hair Guitar plunges head on into the same blend of electro-arcade and disco that Copy seemed to have mastered on Mobius Beard. The sounds—completely stripped here of the sampling featured on Mobius Beard—are refined to a distinctly "Copy" palette of lush, pixilated synth tones, keytar-friendly bass lines, a standard set of Roland-produced 4/4 beats and a not-so-standard abundance of handclaps.
And the record is even more dancefloor-bent than its predecessor. It's less melancholy and more mechanical and, at points, reaches toward old-school electro. The driving, jagged synth line of "See You Around Maybe," for instance, sounds like barely contained analog distortion—basically, electric growling. The song is almost pissed off, yet it still claps at you to dance—a trait that will hopefully be enough (even on fairly inhuman tracks) to engage the rock crossover crowd Copy wooed with Mobius Beard.
If it doesn't, the album's soon-to-be-12-inch single, "Assassinator" (due for release on Holocene Music in May), reverts smoothly to the polished synth sounds and melancholic undertones of Mobius Beard. But the single also has a perfect move-your-ass disco lead, which should earn it a place at the forefront of future Copy shows (not to mention in the sets of more than a few DJs). And "Actual"—tinted by a series of downright somber melodies over a proper dance beat—would make for a good B-side. Meanwhile, the big-bass electro thumps of "Remembering Florida" put Hair Guitar in nearly another world.
But, in reality, it's hardly another world at all; it's the product of one Portland man. Hair Guitar is, above all, distinctly Copy. And, shorn of samples, it unveils Libman as a true, pure songwriter—a job for which he's proven himself more than able.
Copy celebrates the release of Hair Guitar on Friday, March 2, with Panther, DJ Brian Foote, Rob Walmart and E*Rock at Holocene. 9 pm. $7. 21+. See also Panther album review, and Music listings.