Laraaji’s glistening album “Ambient 3: Day of Radiance” has from the beginning been considered an outlier. Though widely celebrated at that the time of its release in 1980 -- as the third installment of Brian Eno’s emerging ambient music series (Ambient 1-4) -- the album also brought with it an aura of mystification. Where did it fit in? An uncharted synthesis of resonating zither textures, interlocking, hammered rhythms and 3-D sound treatments (courtesy of Eno) “Day of Radiance” seemed to push open many doors at once, ambient music being only one of them. Though there are certainly aspects of the album that find sonic common ground with other Eno-related “ambient” projects (the tracks “Meditation #1 & “Meditation #2” in particular) the album is not easily boxed into a singular genre. “Day of Radiance” also mines the ethereal spiritualism of late 70’s New Age music (of which Laraaji is considered a pioneer), the harmonic and rhythmic repetitions of American classical minimalism (Terry Riley & Steve Reich) and traditional global sounds from India and Java (particularly gamelan music). And while Laraaji never explicitly embraced the “Fourth World” theories of fellow visionary and Eno collaborator Jon Hassell, “Day of Radiance” echoes a kindred exploratory exoticism. The appearance of “Day of Radiance” as part of Eno’s landmark ambient series massively elevated Laraaji’s musical profile. In the years following, while he maintained contact (both personal and musical) with Brian Eno, he delved deeper into projects that fused the ethereal qualities of his music with spiritual studies and teachings. Laraaji describes the purpose of such music this way: "I see music as an environment providing thinking, feeling and imagination, an alternative space, container, within which to behave differently. In the case of music as medicine, such music allows for thinking, feeling and imagery to reconnect to a deeper sense of integration, union, oneness…" Laraaji has experienced a resurgence in recent years, following a renewed interest in outsider new-age music (he appears on last year's “I Am The Center” compilation on Light In The Attic) and a career spanning compilation (“Celestial Music 1978 – 2011”) and reissue project dedicated to his work by Eno’s All Saints label. Laraaji also continues to interface with other of musicians who have found inspiration in his work: Bill Laswell, Sun Araw, Blues Control, Julia Holter and many others.
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