INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Classic Rock MARCH 2014 - by David Stubbs
VARIOUS: AMBIENT REISSUES
Extensive reissues of past ambient masters and Brian Eno collaborators.
The three artists featured in these reissues all have Brian Eno in common - as relative, collaborator, producer or, in the case of Laraaji, the guy who spotted his potential. All are associates in the Ambient vision first cast in the '70s.
Laraaji (reissued here: Celestial Music 1978-2011, Essence/Universe, Two Sides Of Laraaji) is least known but most intriguing. A stand-up comedian turned street busker who Eno discovered playing his customised electronic zither, some of Laraaji's early unorthodox, raw, funky energy is evident on 1978's Lotus Collage. Although titles like Think Cosmically and Moon Shadows suggest the New Age bracket, and lengthy pieces like Flow Goes The Universe have a blissful lava-lamp quality, this is beauty with a twinkle in its eye. Chancing on Laraaji is like finding an underground waterfall manned by a chuckling man in robes, channelling the vibes of the cosmos.
Roger Eno (Little Things Left Behind 1988-1998) came to fame as a collaborator with brother Brian and Daniel Lanois on Apollo. In his own right he's a pianist, his compositions reminiscent of John Cage or The Penguin Cafe Orchestra - wry, melancholic, miniature chamber pieces. All very nice and serviceable but lacking in range or inspirational leaps down the Ambient wormholes.
Harold Budd (Wind In Lonely Fences, Buddbox, The Serpent (In Quicksilver), Abandoned Cities, Through The Hill with Andy Partridge) began by making avant-garde drone music - 1970's The Oak Of The Golden Dreams from the Wind In Lonely Fences compilation is a prime example, buzzing austerely like a strip-light. He abandoned this to head to the terrain he's staked ever since: minimal, desolate but irresistibly tonal piano and synth-based pieces, evoking vast Californian night skies. His music maps the echoing loneliness of being human, and it's unsurprising that he often seeks out collaborators: John Foxx, Brian Eno on the brilliant The Pearl, Elizabeth and Robin Cocteau on the rhythmless suspense of Ooze Out And Away, Somehow - and Partridge, teasing unlikely patterns from the XTC frontman on Through The Hill.