Laraaji: Celestial Music 1978-2011

Odds’n’sods comp from the new-age pioneer.

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How’s this for a career curve? Philadelphia-born Edward Gordon studies composition at university, decides to become a stand-up comedian, adopts Eastern mysticism, begins playing a customised electronic zither and ends up being discovered by Brian Eno while busking in New York. Known as Laraaji since he started recording in the late 70s, his best-known release was 1980’s Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance, the third instalment in Eno’s celebrated Ambient series.

One of its key components, The Dance No.3, forms part of Celestial Music, a two-CD collection of rarities and collaborations spanning the past three-and-a-bit decades. Disc two features astral highlights from his work with others (Bill Laswell, Michael Brook, Blues Control), as well as solo sound textures such as 2008’s lovely Staccato.

But it’s Disc one that houses his more animated explorations. Unicorns In Paradise is as outré as its title suggests, recalling both Terry Riley and the blissful kosmische of Tangerine Dream or Harmonia. Vision Song Suite, meanwhile, is a hyperspace ballad of gorgeous proportions.

Also out on All Saints are Essence/Universe and Two Sides Of Laraaji, but this set is a fine entry into a curious universe.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.