Ten Laws with East Forest

Laraaji - Musicians On Music : Sound, Laughter, and the Vertical Now (#77)

Episode Summary

American musician Laraaji is one of new age's most distinctive, prolific, and charismatic artists. Since first gaining exposure in the early '80s after a chance meeting with ambient innovator Brian Eno, who produced the landmark release Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980), Laraaji has released countless cassettes and albums, ranging from the mantra-like synth pop of Vision Songs, Vol. 1 (1984) to the extended drones of 1987's Essence/Universe. 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. Additionally, he has collaborated with several electronic, experimental, rock, and dub musicians, including Japanese dub crew Audio Active (The Way Out Is the Way In, 1995), Bill Laswell (Divination's Sacrifice, 1998), and Philadelphia duo Blues Control (FRKWYS Vol. 8, 2011). In addition to his musical career, he is well known for his Laughter Meditation Workshops.

Episode Notes

Hailed as one of the forefathers of both ambient electronic and new age music, Laraaji is best known for his 1980 collaboration with Brian Eno, "Ambient 3: Day of Radiance."

Born in 1943 as Edward Larry Gordon, Laraaji attended Howard University in Washington D.C. on a scholarship to study composition and piano. He later spent time in New York persuing a career as a stand-up comedian and actor. In the seventies, Laraaji began his lifelong study of Eastern Mysticism, was initiated as a swami, and merged music with spiritual practice. Following an intuition, he bought a zither from a local pawn shop, converted it to an electronic instrument, and, while busking in Washington Square Park, Laraaji was discovered by Brian Eno who offered to produce him on the spot.

His recordings can be found at labels: WARP records, All Saints records, GLITTERBEAT ,Numero Group, Stones Throw, Leaving Records, Soul Jazz, Virgin, Flying Moonlight, RVNG records.