Brad Laner Natural Selections

Brad Laner Natural Selections
Having built a reputation over the last 20-plus years as a sonic innovator who can switch sounds at the drop of a hat, Brad Laner's second solo album follows the path of 2007's Neighbor Singing. Known best for the ear-bleeding noise pop of Medicine and the IDM-fiddling of Electric Company, as a solo artist, Laner is centred on achieving psychedelia and melody via any means necessary. Natural Selections picks up right where its predecessor left off, creating harmonies through doubled-up vocals then piling on as many different instruments and tracks as he can. He might even have the kitchen sink in there, what with all the layers involved, but Laner fails to produce a dull moment. His weapons of choice have always been his guitar and pedals, and he still screeches at the centre of each song. "Brain" sounds as close to Medicine as he gets these days, with a noisy squall of treated guitars relentlessly assuming control. But if Laner is teaching us anything on Natural Selections it's that he's equally interested in showcasing everything else he can play. "Throat," for instance, is built around this thunderous backbeat Laner surrounds with watery synths and warm vocal harmonies; "Little Death" opts for piano and soaring vocals; and "Dirty Bugs" plays with rhythm and symphonic aspirations in the same manner as the Flaming Lips. Laner's only misstep is including a throwaway track, starring his six-year-old son exploring his lo-fi recording aspirations. It's the sort of nonsense that's served best as a deeply hidden bonus track, and in the last quarter of the album throws off what is otherwise a fully engaging listen. (Hometapes)