Laraaji & Sun Araw, Professional Sunflow

Blake Gillespie

The mythology of ambient icon Laraaji traces back to busking in New York City in 1978. By happenstance, Brian Eno heard him in a park playing a zither that he’d repurposed as an electronic instrument that he’d play like a piano. The encounter led to Laraaji’s Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980), the only Ambient series album to not appear under his name. Since then, Laraaji has released dozens of records and collaborations with visionary artists like Bill Laswell and Jonathan Goldman. He’s even collaborated with Blues Control as part of RVNG Intl.’s FRKWYS series.

Perhaps it was the RVNG connection or perhaps it was cosmically fated, but Laraaji has linked up with free thinking experimentalist Sun Araw. Recorded from sets performed in Germany and Switzerland, Professional Sunflow is an effusive plexus of pre-written and improvised experimentations. Sun Araw conjures electronic signals on his hardware, while adding rhythm guitar, and Laraaji is at his zither providing the celestial ambient. The two are joined by Alex Gray who’s role is listed as “computer synthesis.” Sets like “Leipzig Part 1” are expansive expressions that seem to tinker in an ether to the calming wails of Laraaji, while “Lausanne Part 1” resonates on a euphonious plane. On “Lausanne Part 2”, they’ve transitioned into a funkier terrain of psychedelia that plods along with hints of krautrock, but ultimately remains foreign to any singular understanding. The trio blessed the spaces in which they brought these improvisational sets to life, but Professional Sunflow captures an ulterior essence that breathes eternal.

Listen to excerpts from the performances below.

Laraaji & Sun Araw’s Professional Sunflow is out June 17 on W. 25th, a sub-label of Superior Viaduct.

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