Ambient music pioneer Edward Larry Gordon, aka Laraaji, conjures transcendent clouds of elevated sound on this very special FACT mix.
As the 1970s drew to a close, composer Edward Larry Gordon had a revelation. He’d spent the early part of his life studiously immersing himself in music, studying composition and piano at the prestigious Howard University in Washington D.C., but he was feeling limited by the structures imposed on his art.
He was in New York City pursuing acting and comedy when he became obsessed with the Autoharp. A traditional folk instrument primarily associated with bluegrass, the quirky instrument fascinated Gordon, who swapped his Yamaha 6-string acoustic guitar for one at a pawn shop and never looked back. Using a Japanese clay modeling stick he’d found in Tokyo, he approached the instrument in a completely unique way, using open tunings and electrifying the output with a guitar amplifier.
This revelation coincided with an interest Gordon had developed in meditation as searched for answers that were not emerging from his brushes with fame and New York society. As the meditative practices and Autoharp experimentation converged, Gordon’s sound became more unique and he would busk regularly at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. One admirer was ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, who in 1978 left a note in Gordon’s busker’s case asking if he would be interested in collaboration.
The result was 1980’s Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, a musical milestone that introduced listeners across the world to the transcendent sound of Laraaji. Since then, Gordon has never stopped performing, recording and sharing his thoughts and practices – encouraging deep listening, meditation and laughter with a series of incredible albums and shows.
Laraaji’s FACT mix is, as expected, a journey to the spiritual plane, with his own compositions layered around exceptional cuts from Tetsu Inoue, Albert Ayler, Alice Coltrane, Iasos and others.
On Record Store Day this Saturday, Laraaji will release Sun Transformations, a special album of remixes and edits of material from last year’s Sun Gong and Bring On The Sun from the likes of Ras G, DNTEL and Carlos Nino.