Local music reviews: Copywrite and Deathly Fighter

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Let's wrap up this year by acknowledging two essential 2010 releases from former Columbus musicians.

Though he moved to Oakland a while back, Copywrite has been in town recently to promote sophomore LP "The Life and Times of Peter Nelson." The wait since 2002's "The High Exhaulted" was worth it; for all the ink I spilled on this year's Columbus rap renaissance, nobody topped Copy.

The rapping is rarely the first thing that grabs my attention on a hip-hop album - blame whack lyricists or stellar producers or both - but Copywrite's the anomaly, an emcee with the wordplay and charisma to compel for 77 minutes straight, fixated on death but brimming with life.

That's not to shortchange ace production from talents like Surock, Twiz the Beat Pro and RJD2. It's just that Copy's especially potent when ruminating on mortality.

Closer "Tic Toc" sums the album up: "Sometimes I wanna cry/ Sometimes I wanna die/ Almost everyone I love's in the sky/ Can't help but wonder why."

Copy copes with his mom's passing in "Confession" and "Mother.May.I." He constantly shouts out to beloved friend and collaborator Camu Tao, who appears posthumously on MHz reunion "Mega Mega" and contributes production to "Rob the Club." Late Columbus rap icons DJ PRZM and Daymon Dodson get respect, too. There's even a twisted Kurt Cobain tribute.

It's all seasoned with a sly sense of humor and an effortless flow that wrings listeners' pleasure from Copy's pain. Whatever didn't kill him made him stronger, indeed.

If Copywrite gets your heart pumping, Deathly Fighter aims to slow the pulse to a crawl. Debut LP "Completely Dusted" is post-apocalyptic mood music steeped in dub, krautrock and grimy NYC hip-hop.

The band's Michael Carney, now based in Brooklyn, has said the album is designed for downer-fueled relaxation. While it's plenty hypnotic, its latent energy and intricate attention to detail make it just as suitable for tuning in as zoning out.

Most of "Completely Dusted" sets nimble bass grooves and percussion loops as a foundation for mystic drones, erratic synth blurts and a vast spectrum of sonic fragments. It's as meticulous as it is mesmerizing.

And it forms fine parentheses for centerpiece "Praying for Smoke," a 20,000-league plunge into ethereal synth turmoil. This is where "Tron" characters go when they die.