Nov 12, 2017

Sundaze 1746

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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Third 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.

The 3rd re-issue consists of two parts. Its first side, 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, All Pervading is a guided meditation full of light and optimism. Its spoken word segments and patient arrangements illustrate a constructive framework for enjoying the whole of Laraaji’s extensive catalog.

Laraaji - Connecting with the Inner Healer Through Music (flac 243mb)

01 Bethlehem 24:38
02 All Pervading 24:18

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1992’s Flow Goes The Universe (his second major work)features Laraaji on vocals, zither, mbira, keyboards and percussion. Wondrously atmospheric and involving, he creates panoramas that are shimmering and dreamily effective. Flow Goes the Universe is in many ways a collection of the many aspects of the man, not just his music, but his personality too. Laraaji's performances for electro-zither and mbira are at once meditational and rhythmical, serious and humorous. This recording is edited from several concerts and studio performances around the globe. Flow…showcases Laraaji's ability to render mysterious environments all the more palpable, free of technological underpinnings. Produced by Michael Brook. Re-mastered, re-sequenced and featuring new artwork.

Laraaji - Flow Goes The Universe   (flac  342mb)

01 Being Here 25:12
02 Space Choir 5:02
03 A Cave In England 12:19
04 Immersion 2:25
05 Zither Dance 7:54
06 Mbira Dance 3:27
07 Laughing In Tongues 4:36
08 Deep Celestial 5:54
09 In Continuum 4:25
10 Silence I 0:20
11 Silence II 0:30
12 Silence III 1:00
13 Silence IV 1:30
14 Silence V 2:00

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At the crest of the world fusion wave, the Japanese techno quartet Audio Active recorded this collaboration with zither player and guru Laraaji (introduced to Western ears by Roger Eno and Michael Brook). It is a strange collaboration, more denaturing than Brook's albums with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Then again, Laraaji is far from being a traditional player. His electronic zither recalls a spacy, new age keyboard at least as much as any "regular" playing . His laughter and words of advice are at the center of most of the nine pieces. Key sentences (about the importance of laughter, to feel yourself, and to "think cosmically") are looped, repeated, and echoed. That and the group's ability to groove effortlessly in medium tempos trigger deserved comparisons to Lee "Scratch" Perry. The music is laid-back, generally spacy, occasionally funky. That's the ground level. On the second floor listeners find a wide array of influences and samples, from soul-jazz and cosmic groove records to drum'n'bass and world music. On the third floor is Laraaji's personality, utterly sympathetic even if you find his comments lacking substance. Maverick singer/songwriter Bill Nelson contributes some snarling electric guitar to "Music & Cosmic (Feel Yourself)," while Roger Eno and Michael Brook appear in "Blooper's Dance Floor," a track they co-wrote with Audio Active's Masayuki Osada. The reprise of the opener, "New Laughter Mode," to close the album was unnecessary -- it sticks too close to the first version, but otherwise The Way Out Is the Way In makes a light and intelligent album, a lot of fun to listen and re-listen to.

Laraaji and Audio Active - The Way Out Is The Way In (flac  314mb)

01 New Laughter Mode (The Way In) 6:32
02 Music & Cosmic (Feel Yourself) 8:55
03 Think Cosmically 5:44
04 How Time Flies (When You're Having None) 5:12
05 Laraajingle 4:16
06 Space Visitors For Tea - That Lump On Your Head 4:40
07 Hither And Zither 7:34
08 Blooper's Dance Floor 5:06
09 New Laughter Mode (The Way Out) 6:57

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First of all, this album is not a collaboration between Laraaji and Roger Eno. It is a split live album with separate performances from the two, recorded at the Lanzarote Music Festival in 1989. Zitherist/composer Laraaji has the first three tracks, totaling about 24 minutes. and while his ambient meanderings are sometimes quite interesting and possessing a calm beauty, he manages to spoil the mood with disorienting vocal noises. Aside from the vocals, many of the sounds are shimmering and laden with effects. I can't tell if all of them were produced by his zither, or if he used other instruments as well. Roger Eno contributes a single twenty-minute track of mainly solo piano, pleasant enough, but rather unremarkable. Subtle bits of cello and other string-like sounds show up for color, presumably from a keyboard since there’s no credit for another musician. Roger plays verry lamented eno style light piano, worm ambient tones, soft breeze. Check it out worth owning.

Laraaji and Roger Eno - Islands  (flac 193mb)

01 Laraaji - Kalimba 7:28
02 Laraaji - Zaragoza II 12:21
03 Laraaji - Radiance 4:58
04 Roger Eno - Music For Two Islands 20:32

      (ogg  mb )

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willow)O(moon said...

Some interesting sounds here...thanks, Rho

Ian Buckley said...

Rho your upload of 'Flow Goes The Universe' is not the "Re-mastered, re-sequenced and featuring new artwork" version. This is a rip of the 1992 All Saints CD.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rho

Can you please re-up The Way Out Is the Way In?

Many thanks