Electric Company

Omakase

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    9
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Turning his back on major label connections and hooking up with his new spiritual home -- Vinyl Communications, location of such kindred spirits as Kid 606 and Disc -- Laner went even more creatively crazy than before with the brilliant Omakase. Though in many ways his most difficult release yet -- heightened by the fact that the track listing of 11 songs in no way matches the amount of actual tracks on the disc -- Omakase finds him even further into explorations of glitch-beat minimal techno. The free-form megachaos of Electric Company's earlier releases gets increasingly toned down here outside of a blast or two, aiming at subtler approaches while still introducing any number of curious diversions and conclusions: stuttering rhythms, unidentifiable sounds, odd atmospherics. The end result actually ranks as one of the best electronic dance records of the '90s; while one would be hard pressed to find many people actually cutting a rug to it, there's still a smart funkiness throughout that in its own quiet way works. The third track, apparently called "A Lab Errand," is one of the best examples of this, softly ambient swells matching with a gentle, rolling beat and additional quirky noises and shades, including what sounds like heavily processed guitar, to create a pleasant whole. More stripped-down moments provide even calmer but no less attractive results -- the soft pulses and sounds of "Blare" combines subtle tension with a floating, drifting aura, leading right into the more openly freaked out sirens and feedback stutters of "Pha." Noted gamelan-influenced musician Kraig Grady, a regular Laner collaborator, adds "bass bars and microtonal harmonium" on two tracks, but otherwise it's Laner and all his toys once again coming up with the goods. Points go as well to the strange, color collages that make up the cover artwork, front and back.

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