Nov 5, 2017

Sundaze 1745

Hello, a great teacher was once reminded by a disciple of a famous saying: "In the beginning was the word." The teacher thought for a few moments, smiled and corrected his student. "In the beginning was sound, words are our interpretation of that universal phenomena."


Today's Artist is one of new age's most distinctive, prolific, and charismatic artists. A master of multiple instruments, Laraaji primarily constructs his lengthy, meditative soundscapes from an electronically altered zither, hammered dulcimer, kalimba, synthesizers, piano, and other instruments, as well as natural sounds and vocals. Since first gaining exposure in the early '80s after a chance meeting with ambient innovator Brian Eno, Laraaji has released countless cassettes and albums, including collaborations with several electronic, experimental, rock, and dub musicians. In addition to his musical career, he is well known for his Laughter .....N'Joy

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American musician Laraaji is one of new age's most distinctive, prolific, and charismatic artists. A master of multiple instruments, Laraaji primarily constructs his lengthy, meditative soundscapes from an electronically altered zither, hammered dulcimer, kalimba, synthesizers, piano, and other instruments, as well as natural sounds and vocals. Since first gaining exposure in the early '80s after a chance meeting with ambient innovator Brian Eno, Laraaji has released countless cassettes and albums, including collaborations with several electronic, experimental, rock, and dub musicians. In addition to his musical career, he is well known for his Laughter
Laraaji Nadabrahmananda is a meditator, laugh-master and cosmic musician who has performed in Europe, Asia and in the United States with his specially designed electric zither. He also uses the African Mbire, piano, synthesizers, hand drums, percussions, Tibetan gong, and voice in his presentations.


Laraaji was born Edward Larry Gordon in Philadelphia in 1943. While growing up in New Jersey, he studied several instruments as well as vocals, and he attended Washington, D.C.'s Howard University on a music scholarship. He then moved to New York City with the intention of making a living as an actor and comedian. In the early 1970s, he began to study Eastern mysticism and believed he'd found a new path for his music and his life. It was also at this time he bought his first zither from a local pawn shop. Converting it to an electronic instrument, he began to experiment using the instrument like a piano. By 1978, he developed enough skill to begin busking in the parks and on the sidewalks of New York.

He released his first album, Celestial Vibration, under his own name in 1978 on a small label called SWN, and began busking on New York City sidewalks and in parks. Brian Eno happened to come across one of his performances and dropped a card into his instrument case. This led to Eno producing Gordon's first widely available release, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, issued on EG Records in 1980. Gordon's first album under the name Laraaji, the album featured hypnotic, gamelan-like rhythms played on hammered dulcimer, as well as calmer ambient pieces for zither.

As a result of the album's success, Laraaji's compositions became in demand from meditation groups. He released numerous cassette tapes featuring extended, continuously flowing pieces, as well as occasional avant-garde synth pop devotional songs, as on 1984's Vision Songs, Vol. 1. He expanded his spiritual studies, practicing under the tutelage of Swami Satchidananda and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. He collaborated with Sound Healers Association founder Jonathan Goldman, who released their Celestial Realms cassette on his Spirit Music label in 1986. Laraaji's next vinyl release was Essence/Universe, produced by Robert Ashman and released on Audion Recording Company in 1987. Laraaji contributed two pieces to Music for Films, Vol. 3, released by Eno's Opal Records in 1988. Another label associated with Eno, All Saints Records, began releasing Laraaji's music in the early '90s, starting with 1992's Flow Goes the Universe, which was co-produced by Michael Brook. Laraaji then participated in supergroup Channel Light Vessel, along with Bill Nelson, Roger Eno, Kate St. John, and Mayumi Tachibana. The quintet released Automatic on All Saints in 1994, followed by Excellent Spirits (without Tachibana) in 1996. During this time, Laraaji also collaborated with Japanese dub group Audio Active on the 1995 album The Way Out Is the Way In, and released Islands, a split CD with Roger Eno recorded live at a music festival in 1989.

Laraaji's solo album Cascade was released by the Relaxation Company in 1997. The following year, Laraaji played zither on Sacrifice, an album by Bill Laswell's ambient project Divination, released by Meta Records. Laraaji collaborated with Jonathan Goldman again for two more albums, Celestial Reiki (2000) and Celestial Reiki II (2002), both on Spirit Music. He recorded the 2001 album My Orangeness on a farm in Italy, with several local musicians. Laraaji collaborated with Phil Gruber on The Song of Indra, and with Nadi Burton on Sonic Sketches, both in 2006. Otherwise, most of his albums during this decade were self-released solo CD-Rs. Universal Sound (a sublabel of Soul Jazz Records) reissued his debut release Celestial Vibration on CD and LP in 2010.

In 2011, Laraaji's music reached a new audience when he worked with Philadelphia-based experimental rock duo Blues Control, resulting in the eighth volume of RVNG Intl.'s FRKWYS collaborative series. The acclaimed album led to a resurgence of interest in Laraaji's back catalog, and several of his recordings were re-released. In 2013, All Saints packaged Flow Goes the Universe and The Way Out Is the Way In as the double-CD Two Sides of Laraaji, in addition to issuing Celestial Music 1978-2011, a generous anthology of excerpts from his self-released tapes as well as highlights from his more widely known albums and collaborations. A 12" EP of remixes by artists such as Sun Araw and Motion Sickness of Time Travel appeared on All Saints in 2014. In 2015, Leaving Records issued three of Laraaji's early cassettes as All in One Peace, and German label Glitterbeat reissued Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. In 2016, a collaborative double live album by Laraaji and Sun Araw titled Professional Sunflow was issued by W.25TH, an imprint of reissue label Superior Viaduct. Later in the year, Leaving Records issued Laraaji's 1984 cassette Om Namah Shivaya on orange vinyl, in addition to releasing Be Still and Glow, another triple cassette package. Two Laraaji releases, Sun Gong and Bring on the Sun, appeared in September of 2017.

In addition to concerts Laraaji has, for many years, been an important contributor to healing Arts festivals and conferences as his beautiful Celestial sounds create a warm and soothing atmosphere for both presenters and visitors. The Healing Sounds Intensive with Jonathan Goldman, the Life Spectrums Conference and the Freedom Healing Arts Festival are listed as his annual conferences.

A devotee of the late Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, founder of the Ananda Ashram in Harriman, New York, Laraaji is the creator and facilitator of Laughter Meditation Workshops in the United States and abroad; empowering workshops that acknowledge and honor the ability of our laughter to take us into deep relaxation and receptivity to meditation.


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Originally released in 1978 by an obscure label from Portland, Maine called SWN Records, Celestial Vibration was the debut release by Edward Larry Gordon, at the time a street musician busking around New York City. This album was released before he adopted the moniker Laraaji, and before Brian Eno happened to come across one of his performances in Washington Square Park, dropped him a note, and produced his first widely available album, the classic Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980). In retrospect, Celestial Vibration isn't too different from Day of Radiance, at least in terms of instrumentation and general mood, but in no way does it feel like a first draft or a warm-up. Gordon entered the recording studio with his modified electric zither and kalimba, and improvised while deep in a trance. These in-the-moment sessions were later edited into two side-long compositions, "All Pervading" and "Bethlehem." His playing is influenced by spiritual jazz (particularly Albert Ayler and both John and Alice Coltrane) as well as traditional African rhythms, but it sounds like nothing else before it. "All Pervading" is easily the more uptempo and rhythmic piece of the two. Gordon sounds completely at ease yet profoundly focused, hammering away with precision while electronic effects make the tones swirl and shimmer. The whole performance sounds effortless, and astoundingly beautiful. "Bethlehem" is more experimental, alternating between moments of stillness and sharper, nearly thrashing movements. It does get more melodic, but instead of playing the melody upfront, Gordon seems to suspend it and surround it with eerie vibrating effects. It feels very homemade and intimate; the sounds of Gordon knocking on his instruments while playing are clearly audible. It also seems to predict certain types of the free-folk that made underground waves during the 2000s. As fascinating as anything else Laraaji has recorded since, Celestial Vibration is evidence that his unique vision has been incredibly powerful since the very beginning.



Laraaji - Celestial Vibration (flac 243mb)

01 Bethlehem 24:38
02 All Pervading 24:18

Laraaji - Celestial Vibration  (ogg 108mb)

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First of three re-issues of seminal works by new age musician, composer, and laughter meditation workshop leader Laraaji. Recorded between 1978 and 1983, these works have not been re-issued in full since their original release. Although some excerpts of the material have been featured on various compilations, this is the first time in over 30 years that one can experience the uninterrupted duration of these cosmic etudes in their complete form. The added length creates an immersive environment of fresh, exploratory, experimental and healing sounds in which to dwell– these are the proper, entire experiences as intended by their creator.

1978’s Lotus Collage was recorded live in a Park Slope, Brooklyn living room during Laraaji’s busker years. The sounds consist of freestyle electric open tuned zither/harp, Ecstatic Rhythmic hammer percussion, and free flow open hand ethereal moods. This recording crucially predates Laraaji’s now mythological “discovery” by Brian Eno, and is significant as one of Laraaji’s first electric zither recordings. This early recording captures a youthfulLaraaji at the outset of his musical journey, still ripe for discovery, exploration, and transcendence.



Laraaji - Lotus Collage (flac  265mb)

01 Lotus Collage (Side A) 29:56
02 Lotus Collage (Side B) 28:59

Laraaji - Lotus Collage  (ogg  115mb)

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Edward Larry Gordon was a comedian/musician attempting to work his way through the Greenwich Village clubs in the '70s when one day he impulsively traded in his guitar for a zither, adopted the name Laraaji, and began busking on the sidewalks. Brian Eno, living in New York at the time, heard his music and offered to record him, resulting in this singular, unusual album. Laraaji uses an open-tuned instrument with some degree of electrification (and, presumably, with studio enhancements courtesy of Eno), which creates a brilliant, full sound. The first three pieces, "The Dance, Nos. 1-3," are rhythmically charged and propulsive, with tinges of Irish hammered dulcimer music mixed with a dash of Arabic influence. The layered production gives them a hypnotically captivating quality and an echoing vastness, inducing a dreamlike state in which the listener happily bathes. The two parts of "Meditation" are arrhythmic, ethereal wanderings, still effective if less immediately riveting. Day of Radiance is considered an early new age masterpiece and, while it shares certain aspects with the genre (including a heady mystical aura), it has far more rigor, inventiveness, and sheer joy of playing than the great majority of its supposed descendents. It possesses a sense of timelessness that has enabled it to quite ably hold up over the years.



Laraaji and B. Eno - Ambient 3 Day Of Radiance (flac  255mb)

01 I 24:08
02 II 14:47
03 III 14:02
04 IV 8:28
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Laraaji and B. Eno - Ambient 3 Day Of Radiance  (ogg  143mb)

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Second of three re-issues of seminal works by new age musician, composer, and laughter meditation workshop leader Laraaji. Recorded between 1978 and 1983, these works have not been re-issued in full since their original release. Although some excerpts of the material have been featured on various compilations, this is the first time in over 30 years that one can experience the uninterrupted duration of these cosmic etudes in their complete form. The added length creates an immersive environment of fresh, exploratory, experimental and healing sounds in which to dwell– these are the proper, entire experiences as intended by their creator.

1981’s Unicorns in Paradise was performed on electric keyboard Casiotone MT-70, and once again features his iconic zither in a flowing atmospheric improvisation. Laraaji describes its sonic environs as “an ideal habitat in another dimension of timelessness.” Many years later, this description holds true as its vibrant sounds inspire sensual reflections of the excited imagination. The final re-issue consists of two parts. Its first side,Trance Celestial, is a glowing, amorphous survey of muted and malleable electric sounds. Its uncharacteristically dark atmospheres nevertheless still paint a surreal atmosphere for self-reflection. Much beauty and inner-wisdom can be found in the depths of its inward trajectory. In contrast, the title track is a guided meditation full of light and optimism.



Laraaji - Unicorns in Paradise  (flac 400mb)

01 Unicorns in Paradise (Side A) 42:25
02 Unicorns in Paradise (Side B) 45:32

 Laraaji - Unicorns in Paradise   (ogg  210mb )

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1 comment:

ted mills said...

Fabulous post! I would expect most of us only know Day of Radiance, but this helps expand the discography.