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Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
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Review: Laraaji - Bring on the Sun

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I don’t write many record reviews. There are a lot of ‘em about. Strangely, you won’t find many of this minor masterpiece. Metacritic lists just five.

You could argue that five is enough. Metacritic gives it an average score of 75 per cent, which ain’t bad. The Guardian, which ranks Laraaji highest of the five,  says it “sounds as if Laraaji has jumbled up 600 years of music from every part of the world – medieval plainsong, Javan gamelan, Hindustani classical music and so on – and arranged it into eight pieces of minimalism”.

This is a fair description, although I would argue with the word ‘minimalism’. If nothing else it contradicts the phrase that preceded it. The writer could argue that it ‘distills’ 600 years of blah etc into eight pieces of minimalism but that would still be misleading. To describe Bring on the Sun as minimalist is to minimise the all-encompassing wonder that emerges from your speakers.

It is at about this point in your standard issue review that the reviewer surveys the artist’s career. I’m going to leave that to The Stranger, who tells us - very eloquently - exactly why we should give a fuck about Laraaji here.

I described this as a ‘minor’ masterpiece in the intro. It is only ‘minor’ in the sense that it is delicately understated. It only lasts an hour, when it could float on far longer. It doesn't need to. In these wonderfully unrestrained digital times, when Autechre can release of five slabs of alien noise stretching over four-and-a-half hours, and Max Richter can release eight hours of lullabies, Laraaji’s hour feels succinct and apt. One can sit or lie down and listen to it in one sitting and then carry on with one’s day, evening or night. Its perfectly paced hour gives it an old school feel - like some careful thought has gone into creating this perfect hour of music. Like The Beatles or David Bowie might have done when creating their albums.

This is my favourite piece of music released this year. I would almost shy away from calling it an ‘album’. It is more of a transmission. I used the same word in a recent review of one of his live performances - a transmission of pure love, I wrote, I felt… others were equally awed. Laraaji has been sending messages like this for nearly 40 years; bringing calm, tranquility and beauty to a fucked up world.

I had the pleasure of meeting Laraaji briefly at the Terraforma Festival. Met Laraaji? Well, more like ‘accosted him in a state of blissed out reverie’ but despite the possibly overwhelming nature of my enthusiasm, Laraaji smiled and talked me through the best options for purchasing an autoharp without breaking the bank.

Laraaji is a humble soul on a mission. His gift lies in his unerring ability to transmit his bliss to others through live music or on record. I love ambient music. I’ve got tonnes of the stuff but it is quite difficult to make blissful or a joyous ambient music, let alone both. Melancholy? Yep. Brooding? No problem. This is not a phenomenon restricted to ambient music. Have a look through your record collection or your Spotify library. How many records can be described as blissful? Not many, I’d wager. How many can be described as joyous? A few more probably, but it is still quite a difficult emotion to express through music. [Any examples gratefully received. There is a wonderful listicle to be written on the most blissful and/or joyous music on record.]

Everything The Stranger says about his previous releases applies here. Clouds of perfumed music waft out of the speakers. It sprinkles heavenly drops of joy over your shoulders. It takes me to that imaginary paradise deep in the jungle that I go to when meditating my daughter to sleep. I could go on, but just listen. This music will make your life better.

 

 

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