Laraaji’s come a long way ever since being discovered by Brian Eno in 1979. Whodathunk he’d find himself singing and playing his zither in Germany and Switzerland alongside experimental music maker Sun Araw? Not us, that’s for sure. Professional Sunflow features live recordings from Leipzig and Lausanne. Electric rhythms and soundscapes, accompanied by guitar and keys, lift up the heartfelt vocals into long, beautiful and disorienting jams.
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As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a Laraaji record if it hasn’t got the word “sun” in it. The man who turns ambience into a beacon of light is heard here in live collaboration with the jumpy guitar ‘n’ synth experimentalists of Sun Araw. To my mind, it is one of the most surprising leftfield bills of all time, but my mind ain’t that great. If you think Sun Araw have been a little too disjointed for this kinda thing lately, then just put your faith in Laraaji, who provides a clearing between the onsetting abstractions through zither, vocals and drums.
Perhaps the best sign you’ll get of ‘Professional Sunflow’ is on the opening part of “Leipzig”, on which Laraaji suddenly belts out a rather formal laugh. From there, Laraaji seems content to randomly impose himself on the record, sprinkling arpeggiated zither ruminations between the echoing tones of Cameron Stalloness and the gloopy happenings of Alex Gray. His approach is almost lackadaisical, offering up dreamy and distanced textures to go with the earthier eco-drone of his partners. When they switch things up completely, suddenly stripping away layers and just fucking with keyboard settings, Laraaji can still be heard distantly using his percussive tools, as if creating a cloudy second record away from the first.
It’s fun when they get noisy, and they do. The second part of “Leipzig” comes beaming through with synths while Laraaji’s drums splinter apart. It’s also fun when they let the quietness consume them; “Lausanne” grows rather gorgeously from the sparse formlessness of Laraaji’s percussion into a positively glowing new age composition where the two flips of the coin finally coalesce. Here, the synths, percussion, guitar and zither all sound part of the same piece, rather than two kinds of music happening upon the same room. They glisten together like three people jamming on a sunny day. What a lovely thing -- this experiment doesn't always hit, but when it does, it'll only make you glide.
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