Hard Dream finds Copy (aka Portland, Oregon's Marius Libman) returning with a third set of catchy, laptop-produced tunes for Audio Dregs. Though as always the Copy sound is heavily informed by the video game soundtracks that seeped into Libman 's unconscious as a kid, this time around dark shadows occasionally fall across the album's material. That's by design, however, as he designed the album to play like a score to an un-filmed movie in accordance with a horror film concept provided by his friend Joe Von Appen. The story? The would-be film concerns a man whose nightmares mutate into a late-night television show and eventually hallucinations—none of which one must know in order to enjoy the album's ten tracks.
Opener “One Less Time” tip-toes in with arpeggios dancing over thick synthetic gleam before the disco-funk beats suddenly kick in, bringing into sharp focus Libman's effervescent Copy style. Lightly funky in spirit, the tune shimmies for a clap-happy eight minutes, and is one of the brightest stars in this album's universe. “Breakfast” counters its melancholy harpsichord melodies with the caffeinated charge of grooving beats, while a heavier beat attack gives “Real Scared” an earthier thrust that nicely complements its sparkling keyboard textures and synth-funk melodies. There are clubby moments too, as evidenced by the pulsating electro-boogie of “I Can Smell It” and the viral Italo disco of “It Could Have Been More,” which Libman powers with a swollen bass undertow and chugging beats. Hard Dream's solar system is chock-full of squiggling synth melodies, chiming keys, crisp funk beats, and an overall mood of controlled jubilation. Libman's tracks leave little to chance and sound carefully scripted from start to finish (note, for instance, the nearly subliminal castanet accent that punctuates the rhythm during “It Could Have Been More”). Not a moment is wasted, and each detail-packed track states its case with admirable dispatch.