Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 9: Laraaji and the Communal Healing Power of Music

Laraaji at Rhinoceropolis in July 2019, photo by Tom Murphy

Circle of Celebration is the latest release from the NOUS ensemble. The latter is a collaboration between composer Christopher Bono, sound healing artist Arji OceAnanda and ambient music legend Laraaji. Bono had met OceAnanda and Laraaji at the Ananda Ashram near Monroe, NY in 2013 and wasn’t initially aware of their status as accomplished musicians. But the three made an immediate connection over the work of Thich Nhat Hahn, the influential Vietnamese Zen monk and over several years kept in contact and came to record this new album. Incorporating Bono’s classical composition and production background with Arji’s sound healing methods and both Laraaji’s approach to ambient music and his concept of laughter meditation the music goes beyond logical barriers and limitations to stimulate the parts of your brain that create an openness of spirit and relaxation from everyday anxieties. Certainly states of being and emotion we could all use now.

Laraaji became known to a larger world of music through the 1980 release of his landmark album Day of Radiance as the third part of the Brian Eno produced Ambient series. At that time and since his music has exerted an influence not just on ambient music but world music and the use of sound and practice as a meditation for personal and collective improvement and development and Circle of Celebration certainly incorporates all elements of Laraaji’s life in the arts up to this time.

We had a chance to speak with Laraaji about Circle of Celebration and its manifestation of the trio’s philosophical and artistic underpinnings, intersections and goals as musicians linked below through our podcast on Bandcamp. Circle of Celebration releases on Our Silent Canvas Records on November 12, 2021 and you can order the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.

Ghost Against Ghost’s “still love” is a Stirring, Exultant, Towering Epic

Ghost Against Ghost, photo courtesy the artist

The main progression of “still love” by Ghost Against Ghost is reminiscent of that of the otherworldly and chilling Goblin composition “Tenebre” from the soundtrack for Tenebrae. And from there the song sweeps with multiple streams of sound into an emotional peak before soaring off into ethereal minimalism held aloft by the main melodic theme. At a little over ten minutes the song sounds like the official music for a far future artifact that one would expect to see in a Moebius or Alejandro Jodorowsky comic complex machine that brings culture, art and technology across parallel universes appearing like a divine sculpture, an abstract expression of the local culture’s mythology. Its elegant sonic architecture is massive and cascades tones in what feels like great forward momentum. Composer Christopher Bono worked with drummer Thomas Pridgen and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Molina on this piece and it is obvious all the combined talent came together to create a powerful listening experience. Informed by classical music it’s the kind of art/progressive rock that belies the notion that it is all of the head and not the heart. If a movie is made of the comic series Saga, the producers should consider contacting Ghost Against Ghost because the music is on a scale worthy but as unpretentious as Bryan K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples creation itself. Listen below and follow Ghost Against Ghost on the Spotify account.