Lovers of instrumental ambient music will be pleased to see that Laraaji is back with two new albums. The musician, mystic and laughter meditation practitioner famously recorded an album as part of Brian Eno’s seminal Ambient series back in 1980 – Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance – but he’s released far more music in the time since, and singling out a particular release, even such a critical one, in what has been and continues to be a prolific career doesn’t illuminate the rest of his incredibly varied music.
The New Yorker’s most recent releases, Bring On The Sun and Sun Gong, are two outstanding albums in their own right. The deeply mystical music is an exploration in new age, a morning meditation for when the dawn is breaking. His music opens the third eye – as well as the heart – just as the other two are closing, with a beautiful, shimmering clarity on display.
Bring On The Sun is golden, uplifting music. Glimmering notes sparkle in a bronze light and are as elongated as a rainforest’s mass of trees; eternally there. Silky and transparent drones drift like echoing shadows in a spot of afternoon sunlight. “Harmonica Drone” is all smiles and pure happiness, as is the next track, “Enthusiasm”, which perpetuates a wonderful feeling of joy. Joy is released through laughter and the completely natural instrument of the human voice. A deep feeling of tranquillity is hot on the heels, oozing out of the music and into the spirit. Positivity has been in short supply this year – 2017 has left it for dead – but there are still glimpses of happiness and kindness, and that’s where music comes in. Life is a series of setbacks and breakthroughs, but if you’re reading this, you’re still breathing. The music will help to make things right…or at least feel right.
‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’
That’s Laraaji’s philosophy.
Sun Gong rises up high, like an unending, roaring tsunami. When the gongs splash down, reverberating all around, their immensity takes the breath away. Deeper drones help to fill out the shuddering space as the ground quivers in the wake of the all-powerful gong.
Later on, echoing vocals will emerge, but they feel like they’re deep within a cavern, with the sound of trickling water darkening the atmosphere and the crashing of the gongs somehow illuminating it. The reverberation can create and destroy in equal measure, like a delusional deity that flows into the space and annihilates what went before. The sound is ancient, exceptionally heavy, predating the pyramids and even the first known cave painting. Percussion was heard in the first spark of the first fire; in the sickening thud of imminent death when the meteorite crashed and killed off the dinosaurs; it was in the roaring jets of magma and the spluttering chaos of the Earth’s childbirth pains, predating our first contact with Music herself in its current form.
Shamanic incantations arrive from a hidden temple that lets in a radiant source of shimmering light. The meditation concludes with a chime, allowing the listener time to pull out of its spell. This new day brings with it a renewal of radiance. (James Catchpole)