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Baker's Dozen

Tell-tale Pulsations: Laraaji Picks His 13 Favourite Albums
David Stubbs , November 15th, 2017 12:03

From the Faces Of The Christ to the Sounds of Nature, ambient master Laraaji picks the 13 albums that shaped him


Laraaji - Ambient 3: Day of Radiance

Brian Eno produced and released this on his label in 1980. In 1978, I believe, I was playing music in one of my favourite outdoor performance venues, which is in Washington Square Park, New York. I was playing in my favourite area of the park, at night. After playing a two hour long set - I usually played with my eyes closed - I found a quick, scribbled note that someone had left in my zither case. It was from Brian Eno. He wanted me to talk about a project he was working on - he was living at the Village at the time. So I called him and we discussed a realm of things until we finally landed on the subject of “Ambient music”. It was the first time I had heard the word “ambient” used with music and he took a little patient time to describe the concept to me. We agreed to go to the studio and perform, at which point I still did not fully understand exactly what Ambient music was. But I soon got the idea - a music was repetitive, non-invasive, a music that created an environment in which people could think or simply exist.

He introduced to the idea that microphones could achieve a richer sound than my pickup at the time. It also surprised him to learn that I could play the zither very softly and very meditatively. And when I went into the meditative passages, unfortunately the recording also picked up various other mechanical noises going in other parts of the studio building. And so the album had to be played until we could find a quieter studio without extraneous noise. That was a lesson as to how microphones work well - sometimes too well.

Anyway, it was an album that put me on the global map. I still connect with Brian when I visit England. His own music always drops me into this contemplative space. I toured with him when he was doing his “life sculptures” with Russell Mills. But we hang out socially also.

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