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Laraaji Goes Home Again

On a new solo piano album (due out July 17)

Laraaji is a name synonymous with the early days of ambient music. But there were days even earlier than those, as a new album makes clear. The musician has long been associated with Brian Eno’s pioneering creation, curation, and collation of ambient music in the 1970s, thanks to the album Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. Since then, Laraaji has been best known for his work with electronically enhanced zither. But on Sun Piano, due out a month from tomorrow, on July 17, on the All Saints label, Laraaji sticks with solo piano, reaching back to the musical education that preceded his electronic explorations. Two tracks have been posted so far, the Asia-tinged “Temple of New Light,” and the equal parts soulful and playful “This Too Shall Pass,” with its echoes of Nina Simone’s barroom bravura and Aaron Copland’s Western gravitas. I’ve heard the whole record, and all I can say is his rendition of the folk song “Shenandoah” features a marvel of an arrangement.

Pre-order the album at laraajimusic.bandcamp.com. I interviewed him back in 2015: “The Eternal Life Aquatic with Laraaji.”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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