Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist Brad Laner has had one of the strangest music careers in recent history. At age fourteen, he started his own band, Debt of Nature. He then moved on to avant-pop weirdness with Steaming Coils, drummed for psychedelic tribal troupe Savage Republic, flaunted guitar heroics in Medicine and crafted arty pop in Amnesia. And since 1994, he's coaxed astonishing sounds out of a laptop with his solo project, Electric Company. Laner has built a catalog of tremendously idiosyncratic electronica that fuses "real" instruments with software programs typically used by intelligent-dance-music producers. It's Hard to Be a Baby
marks a new pinnacle of Laner's fusion of rock instrumental wizardry and digital signal processing. Baby
showcases a unique artist harnessing tunefulness and turbulence and, in the process, making chaos a thing of unearthly beauty.
With his first Medicine album in eight years, Laner stakes legitimate claim to being the Timbaland of the effects-pedal-happy guitar set. Although Laner has toned down the excessively abrasive guitar tones that prompted critics to compare Medicine's first two albums -- Shot Forth Self Living and The Buried Life -- to My Bloody Valentine, he has retained his knack for psychedelic disorientation. The Mechanical Forces of Love perfectly blends Medicine's blissful shoegazer dynamics with Electric Company's digital legerdemain. To this potent mix Laner adds a supercharged pop melodiousness that could stun Brian Wilson out of his dulled mindstate. Add Shannon Lee's glossy, multitracked vocals and a surprisingly funky undercarriage to the densely layered songs, and the result is euphoric mutant pop for the new millennium.