Electric Company

A Pert Cyclic Omen

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While his work in Medicine and elsewhere had shown signs of fully cutting ties from conventional rock structures in favor of pure experimental and dance approaches, it wasn't until this excellent album appeared that any of Brad Laner's efforts in that vein came to full light. A Pert Cyclic Omen (like each of the song titles on the record, an anagram of his new project's name) creates something between the post-everything guitar/studio explorations of Main and Lull and avant-garde techno that wouldn't sound too far afield on the Warp label. Strictly instrumental -- what vocals appear are distorted spoken-word samples -- Electric Company's debut shows Laner coming into his best potential yet. Opening track "PA Intercom Cycle" fearlessly sets the mood, with shimmering, descending notes like eerie treated chimes mixed with low, ominous rumbles and buried roars, not to mention a weirdly calming motif that softly fades away at the end with the rest of the track. "Polymeric Accent" follows up with a relentless, gripping rhythm roil mixed with odd flute notes and other layers, and from there Lanerdoesn't look back once. While similar elements recur here and there, no two tracks really sound alike, finding Laner in good creative health (especially compared with the drawn-out mess that was the final Medicine album). At its oddly prettiest, there's actually something of the Cocteau Twins about the album -- not utterly surprising given Laner's other work, but still intriguing in context, as the jazzy percussion fills and soft keyboards of "Electro Amp Cynic" show, even while more aggressive tones flit around. The title track succeeds very well, distorted howls and screams bouncing throughout the mix while sheet-metal guitar screams eventually take over from the echoing, murky rhythm.

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