Electric Company: Creative Playthings

In celebration of his first-born, Brad Laner unleashes his tenth Electric Company full-length Creative Playthings, a stunning collection of eighteen mini-epics. This immensely polished and jubilant album, played and sung “in the lab of happy dreams '03-'04,” encompasses squelchy glitchfunk, vocodered synthpop, ambient noisescapes, angelic lullabies, and everything in between. The level of invention and imagination is jaw-dropping, whether it be the Jon Hasselesque trumpet ululations of “Eighteen Hard Feelings” or the steaming, blues-drenched guitars in “Early Teeth.” The best of the lot? Tough call, but I'd nominate the deeply damaged hip-hopper “The Crab Eating Fox” with its roughed-up clavinet or perhaps the breezy folktronic “Vernal Blue Extract,” so deliciously sweetened by glockenspiel sprinkles. And song titles like “Theme from the Mushroom Shaped Tongue” and “Recalcitrant Remote Comptroller” only add to the album's considerable charm.

November 2004