5th June 2014




Event Information

St John Sessions is pleased to welcome return collaborator Sun Araw for a special performance with Laraaji. Both supporting recent album releases, Sun Araw and Laraaji will play their own sets as well meld zither, electronics, acoustics, and outernational sound sources into a special live collaboration, "The Play Zone". The project combines the unique niches of both artists, who have carved their own 21st century spiritual dimension in musical space and time.

New York-based LARAAJI began playing music on the streets in the 1970s, improvising trance-inducing jams on a modified autoharp processed through various electronic effects. Upon seeing him playing one night in Washington Square Park, Brian Eno invited him to record an album for his seminal Ambient series. Laraaij went onto release a prolific series of albums for a wide variety of labels, many of which he recorded himself at home and sold as cassettes during his street performances. Most recently his career has been celebrated with the double disc retrospective Celestial Music 1970 – 2011, now set for release as a vinyl edition in 2014 on All Saints/Warp, along with specially commissioned remixes by new acolytes Sun Araw, Bee Mask, Ela Orleans, and Motion Sickness Of Time Travel.

Over multiple cassette releases, three EPs, six full-length albums and some arresting visual work, Cameron Stallones aka SUN ARAW has evolved as a singular purveyor of low-end psychedelia, melted afrobeat and warped dub. An excellent example of hypnagogic pop, Sun Araw’s music messes with time; his tracks never quite go anywhere while never quite staying still either. Filled with swelling bass lines, bubbling percussion, flabby synth stabs and languid guitars, Araw’s tracks tend to merge into one another, conjuring a timeless fog. Sun Araw’s latest album, Belomancie (Sun Ark, 2014), self-described as an “active listening experience...not designed to accompany existing environments”, is his first album since the pointillist stumble-funk and heat-bent grooves of 2012's The Inner Treaty, which dropped shortly after Icon Give Thank (Rvng Intl, 2012), a collaborative album between Stallones, M. Geddes Gengras and roots reggae vocal legends The Congos as part of their FRKWYS series.

Joining the evening with a DJ-Set and on stage with Cameron Stallones is regular Sun Araw live collaborator ALEX GRAY aka DEEP MAGIC who since releasing his debut album, Solar Meditations, for cult label Not Not Fun, has gone on to record a number of longform pieces, mainly on small cassette releases including for his own Deep Tapes label. His third album, Reflections of Most Forgotten Love (Preservation, 2013) creates a meditative realm that is somehow dynamic and driven while at the same time beautifully spacious – a patiently unfolding pursuit of spiritual grace. Alex Gray has also contributed to works by Pocahaunted and Black Eagle Child.

Event Details
8:00 pm
11:00 pm

Event Content archive


Laraaji & Sun Araw : The Play zone

Pattten – Boiler Room


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Laraaji's introduction to a worldwide audience was through his discovery by Brian Eno, who was taken by his electric autoharp playing as he walked through a park in New York in 1979, and resulted in the dazzling album, Day of Radiance, the third in Eno's Ambient series on EG.

The last time Laraaji played a major venue in London was in 1987 and he was part of the Opal Evening tour which included performances by Harold Budd and Roger Eno and visuals by Rusell Mills. Laraaji played a short set wearing a white robe. At St Johns he was all in orange with vibrant white floral bursts on his shirt.

Cleveland's Chris Madak (Bee Mask), in the opening set, filled the hall with a carefully modulated, entrancing electronic flow. As he wove a meditative spell with drifting, charged timbres that had affinities with the contemplative areas that Laraaji inhabits, Laraji was up in the balcony (which was closed to the audience), and later, down at the back of the hall, getting his bearings and a feel for the space, its atmosphere and acoustics.

patten was a different proposition. Hyper-active, hunched over guitar and electronica, he drove a pulsating techno surge with high-energy propulsion and rib-shaking bass, accompanied by rapidly morphing, computerised visuals, projected on to the full height of the wall behind the stage.

With Laraaji ensconced at the side of the stage, long-term associates, Sun Araw (Cameron Stallone) and Alex Gray, sitting at tabletops with two orange linear triangles alongside them (symbolising the final three-way interaction that was to follow), launched in to The Play Zone, the soubriquet for the improvised collaboration at the heart of this European tour. Purposeful tentativeness - clicks, rings, and intermittent, random beeps, which could have been sounds from a computer game - gradually crystalised as they defined their route, with Araw adding discreet guitar embellishments. A foot-tapping groove emerged, and successions of overlapping patterns, drones, even an interim locked groove, were set up in their on-stage workshop, as they gave rein to their multi-tasking skills in two brightly unpredictable sequences.

Laraaji joined them for a resounding workout which followed the model of indistinct, exploratory beginnings to develop a strong structure and a clear vision. He added high-pitched vocals, chimes and bells to flowing waves of metallic zither and autoharp in a dialogue that had the trio trading micro-sounds, riding over beds of temporary turbulence, ultimately fashioning a journey to an ethereal, floating zone in the spirit of immersive engagement that is key to Laraaji's audience connection.

Geoff Winston