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Artist
Laraaji
ReleaseProduct
The Piano Trilogy
Label
All Saints Records
Catalogue Number
WAST061CS
Release Date
December 1, 2020

When asked about the release, Laraaji said “This anthology compiles my first solo piano releases. The piano for me has been a major instrument for exploring passionate improvisation and spiritual self communion. In short, the piano is my MUSIC Therapy, since age 10,1953. The 2018 Brooklyn Church recording session for these albums allowed me to finally immerse my body, heart and soul in sharing one of the major loves of my creative life: the Concert Grand piano. These recordings capture my freedom of inspired spontaneity. Most tracks were spontaneous first takes of new music, their titles inspired after the improvisation. You are warmly invited to listen and feel sunny positivity, lunar calm and uplifting luminosity.”

Sun Piano

When one thinks of Laraaji, one hears the sounds of spiritual music - zithers, chants, gentle synthesisers and such like. As one of the artists vital to the emergence of the ambient genre of music, Laraaji’s public image is well-earned and backed up by an impressive catalogue of LPs. However, there is another side to his music, one that is rooted in the more traditional sounds of the piano, the instrument he took up as a child. Sun Piano, recorded in a Brooklyn Church by Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Mary Lattimore) is the first in a new trilogy of records that Laraaji is releasing, finds Laraaji returning to the keys.

These improvisations are hugely lively, the energy and verve that Laraaji plumbs into his ‘deep listening’ music alive and well here. The tracks still have a meditative quality to them, but this comes through more in the bright harmonies than in Laraaji’s lusty playing style. Indeed, the way that Laraaji seems to almost wring the sounds from the instrument on cuts such as ‘This Too Shall Pass’ displays a power not often heard on his other records. His links to jazz, spiritual or otherwise, come into sharper focus here, the solo keyboard work of Keith Jarrett and Horace Tapscott apparent in Sun Piano’s trilling soundscapes.

Sun Piano is Laraaji, but not as you may know him. These bright and brilliant piano improvisations represent some of the most dynamic music he has ever made.

Moon Piano

Like the Sun Piano LP, Moon Piano’s predecessor in a trilogy of records from Laraaji, this album finds the spiritual/new age artist leaving behind his autoharp and other instruments in order to return to his first love of the piano. However, while these numbers are similar to Sun Piano in that they are keyboard improvisations recorded in a Brooklyn church, the music of Moon Piano is a more contemplative affair befitting its nocturnal title.

Indeed, while Laraaji may not have his previously utilised gongs or chimes to hand here, an air of calm serenity can be found across much of Moon Piano which immediately distinguishes it as a Laraaji LP. In contrast to Sun Piano’s bright, driven improvisations, here Laraaji retreats into a world of hanging cluster-chords and gentle melodies. The sense of stargazing wonder is reflected in Moon Piano’s track-titles - ‘Stillness’, ‘Bathed In A Glow’, ‘Feeling Lovely’ - and reminds the listener of the most tranquil moments of Keith Jarrett’s music. All in all, Moon Piano is a set as harmonious and healing as any of Laraaji’s more overtly spiritual works.

As night follows day, so Moon Piano follows Sun Piano. Laraaji’s latest collection of piano improvisations is a gorgeously ruminative affair from the spiritual music legend.

Through Luminous Eyes

Through Luminous Eyes, the four-part work which brings Laraaji’s Piano Trilogy to a close, is a combination of everything great about both the Piano Trilogy and Laraaji’s musical output as a whole. Whereas its predecessors in the series - the Sun Piano and Moon Piano LPs - had seen this icon of new age music working with the keyboard alone, Through Luminous Eyes combines more of these piano sounds with the shimmering zither tones that have adorned so many of Laraaji’s records down the years.

While Sun Piano and Moon Piano were certainly hugely spiritual listens, Through Luminous Eyes arguably goes even further down this path. There is an almost dreamlike quality to Laraaji’s music here - the way his gorgeous piano improvisations are washed out with zither runs and billowing plumes of reverb sounds very much like inner peace. At times the sections of Through Luminous Eyes will fall back in order to allow the piano to take centre stage, while other parts of the record deliver thousand-yard ambiences of immense beauty. Whatever the musical treatment at any given moment, Laraaji has created an album here which achieves the luminosity that is promised by its title.

Laraaji rounds out his Piano Trilogy with the glorious new age ambiences of Through Luminous Eyes.

  1. 1 Embracing This 0:42
  2. 2 Hold On To The Vision 3:51
  3. 3 Flow Joy 2:30
  4. 4 Shenandoah 3:10
  5. 5 This Too Shall Pass 3:34
  6. 6 Sunny Day Horse 2:59
  7. 7 Elevation 3:18
  8. 8 Temple Of New Light 4:00
  9. 9 Moods And Emotions 3:30
  10. 10 Lifting Me 3:45
Show All Tracks 26

Sun Piano Track List

Side A

  1. Embracing This
  2. Hold On To The Vision
  3. Flow Joy
  4. Shenandoah
  5. This Too Shall Pass
  6. Sunny Day Horse

Side B
7. Elevation
8. Temple Of New Light
9. Moods And Emotions
10. Lifting Me
11. Resonance
12. Embracing Timeless

Moon Piano Track List

Side A

  1. Prana Light
  2. Stillness
  3. Lightly
  4. Quiet Journey
  5. Through This Moment

Side B
6. Bathed In A Glow
7. Pentatonic Smile
8. Feeling Lovely
9. Trance Gaze Pt.1
10. Trance Gaze Pt.2

Through Luminous Eyes Track List

Side A

  1. Through Luminous Eyes Pt.1
  2. Through Luminous Eyes Pt.2
  3. Through Luminous Eyes Pt.3
  4. Through Luminous Eyes Pt.4

Side B - all tracks exclusive to this box set
5. Softly
6. Give Praise
7. Star Waltz
8. Grounding Here
9. Solitude
10. Be This Now
11. Aquaflow

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