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Laraaji - Ambient 3 Day of Radiance - (Glitterbeat Records)

25 January 2016

Producer Brian Eno threw a bit of a curve ball with this, the third release in his “Ambient” series. While the other selections (1978’s Music for Airports, 1980’s The Plateaux of Mirror with Harold Budd and the final selection, Eno’s On Land from 1982) hold true to the ambient ideal- namely, music that isn’t in the forefront, Day of Radiance, at least for the first three numbers- “The Dance #1-3” is anything but background music. Laraaji (Edward Larry Gordon, who Eno discovered while he was playing his zither in Washington Square Park) creates a rather frenetic pace with his hammered dulcimer, which carries a strong Gamelan influence. Eno’s touch here is purely production-oriented (he doesn’t play an instrument), but in Eno’s hands the studio becomes an instrument, and his manipulation of the acoustic instruments being played create a ghostly, almost unrecognizable sound.

The last two selections, “Meditation 1, 2” are more standard ambient fare, with Laraaji’s zither sounding almost like an electronic keyboard filtered sent through loads of echo, more along the lines of Music for Airports. Laraaji has enjoyed a long career, performing with the likes of Bill Laswell, Larry Kramer, and as a part of Channel Light Vessel, and Day of Radiance is an absorbing, meditative introduction to his unearthly music.