Edward Larry Gordon was a part-time actor and occasional zither player who supplemented his thespian income by busking in New York. In possibly one of the finest synchronicities in popular music, Brian Eno—in the Big Apple to work with avant-garde trumpeter Jon Hassell—placed a note in the busking Larry’s hat that read, ‘Would you like to meet to consider a recording project?’*

Well, before you could say ‘enlightenment’, Larry G became Laraaji, donned flowing robes and recorded the third album in Eno’s series for EG Records, Ambient #3: Day of Radiance.

Recorded simply (and with lots of Eno’s trademark reverb), the music has a hypnotic quality that has stood the test of time rather well. Perhaps the timbral simplicity helps; the only instruments were an electric zither and a hammered dulcimer which, according to Eno biographer David Sheppard, was purchased ‘for a pittance in a downtown thrift store’*.

I don’t know if Larry G’s instrument looked  like this, but it gives you the idea

For those unfamiliar with the zither, it is a stringed instrument that found significant popularity in Germany and was used to great effect as the Harry Lime (Orson Wells) theme in the film classic The Third Man. Zither is, you see, a German name deriving from the Latin cithara, the word which gave us guitar. So really Larry G was a zithery axe hero.

The hammered dulcimer has been around since all musicians came equipped with halos; it’s that old. The instrument has strings, but these are not plucked or strummed, but struck with mallets. As a result, the sound carries both melody and rhythm—sticks on metal strings produce sounds like a delicate soprano steel drum.

You may think these two instruments are about as different as a guitar and a banjo and you’d be about right. They interweave together in a haze of trebly bell cascades that Laraaji uses very differently on each side of the album.

Side one comprises three variations on ‘The Dance’. Though the bell-like tones have little in the way of low frequencies, the tempo provides plenty of forward momentum. There is a trance-like quality, something otherworldly. It’s faerie trip-hop at the Elven rave, dancers and air both shimmering as the dawn breaks. William Blake must have loved those parties, as he absolutely nailed it in ‘The Ecchoing Green’ (from his 1789 hit, Songs of Innocence).

The Sun does arise,

And make happy the skies.

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring.

The sky-lark and thrush,

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around,

to the bells cheerful sound.

‘The Dance’ is all-chiming, all-leaping enchanted bucolic ambient trance music. It is a festival of tininnabulation that comes with Bill Blake’s stamp of approval, dig?

The second side is an altogether quieter and more wispy affair. This is a balmy late-night float to the stars, lying back on springy moss with your elven maid or lad and pondering how galaxies make the clouds of the Milky Way. Rhythm here has dissolved into washes of string arpeggios and cascading droplets of sound. It is beautiful and supremely relaxing.

Larry G / Laraaji went on to run laughter workshops. This may seem the epitome of New Age flapdoodle, and certainly there is a whiff of charlatanism colouring Larry’s patchouli, yet Day Of Radiance does embody a kind of magic. The shaman may not have hung out in the sacred grove for very long, but the healing harmonics resonate nonetheless.

* David Sheppard (2008) On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno. Orion Books, UK. (pp. 316-7)


Many years ago I bought a copy of The Bruford Tapes. I was chuffed, because I had one or two of Bill Bruford’s records and rated them highly. But on extracting the LP I found it was not the expected platter of Bill’s ensemble thrashing out electric jazz-rock-prog tunes but an album by someone called Laraaji.

Right label, wrong record. Rats.

Still, I liked Day Of Radiance and kept it, even finding a plain cardboard sleeve to cover Laraaji’s tinkles in more appropriate garb.

But enjoyable though the album was, I was never going to write about it. Why? Because Radiance is the third in Eno’s series of four cartographically themed releases and obviously I had to have them all before presenting any part of the quartet to the world.

I had three and a missing cover. More rats.

Years passed. Decades, actually.

Then last year I happened across a copy of Ambient 3 in a second-hand shop. They were asking silly money for a record that was clearly a deletion (the tram ticket snip out of the cover’s top left corner is the giveaway) but it was in great condition so I sighed and handed over the cash.

Completism can be an expensive business, but it fails to diminish the pleasure of presenting this photo of the complete Ambient series.

In fact, I feel quite radiant.


  1. I did an image search to see if Laraaji looked like a long haired leaping gnome but he was bald and skinny; and yet surely he must have wondered if he was dreaming the day that note was dropped in his hat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently he had only vaguely heard of Eno, but enough to follow up the note. Good move, Larry!


  2. You’re still way ahead of me. I stopped at Ambient 1 (Airports) and never could figure out why! Never mind the cover snip, you done good. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Marty. I do like a complete set! (And actually, all four albums are worthwhile, even if none are as seminal as Music for Airports).


  3. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    OK, I’m down in the hole with you now. This is nuts: this record you describe is the only in the series I have not heard. How funny is that?! I wasn’t even aware of it. I have the other three (Plateaux is my favorite), but now I’m going to have to see if I can track this down to hear it. Very cool. Or very freaking dorky. Or both. Nice to hear from you Bruce! Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Laraaji’s LP is quite different to Eno’s (unsurprisingly) but interesting nonetheless.

      And we are, er, sharing the same hole, Bill. I enjoy ambient music as part of my fascination with electronica old and new, and your references to the music you unwind to has infiltrated my listening. This was a partially completed piece from a year ago that I dusted off and completed. But there may well be more ambience to come.


  4. Completism! Congrats! I do like that photo of all four album covers. Looking at the designs and lines…what do they look like lined up, from left to right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh. L to R, eh? Off to do that now…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome. 🙂


  5. The missing piece of the square puzzle – the photo justifies the investment in my books!
    That’s a neat story too about the note in the busking hat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ain’t it, though? Kind of like a Holywood plot device that actually happened!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes! Completism! It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it just? Especially when the covers all look like very different parts of a map… or something. Let’s not limit lining them up 1 to 4, but there’s a few combinations there waiting for discovery!

    … and an unexpected mixed up record, eh? I one found an Elton John Greatest Hits hidden inside a newly acquired Cars sleeve. I should have looked closer at the label!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you and Danica want to play with the covers. Like a square topographical jigsaw… Perhaps your little fella is an inspiration for some creative play!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s quite possible!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This article made me go and check to see how many I have in the series as I couldn’t remember! Looks like three, only missing Ambient 1 Music for Airports. My favourite has always been On Land. Something very haunting and of its place. Eno was spot on with that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great Barry! So far there have been votes for both Amb 2 and Amb 3. And mine would go to Amb 1. So perhaps there’s a series in this, er, series?


  8. I wrote a quite long erudite comment praising this post, this LP and you – sadly I lost the bastard thing going through a tunnel. So bollocks to it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I appreciate the thought Joe. Tunnels can be a Bastard (which was the title of another of Blake’s poems, this time from Songs of Experience).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m still cross about it. I suspect laraaji wouldn’t approve.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Editor’s Note: Joe’s amusing and insightful post on this album, “Ambient Frugging”, can be found here:

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Damn he’s good, that guy.

          Thanks Bruce.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post prompted some additional reading. Of course I’m sure you know this, Bruce, but I hadn’t realized that it was Brian Eno who actually coined the term ‘ambient’ music. (March 2nd 2018 is now officially a good day, as I’ve learned something new). The zither was used to *such* great effect in The Third Man. As for the music Ambient 3, alas…I need a melody to latch onto, and a clear path forward…it’s just too…er, ambient sounding. Favorite line: “The hammered dulcimer has been around since all musicians came equipped with halos”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the piece, JDB, even if the music didn’t hammer your dulcimer.

      The subtitle of Ambient 1 is Music For Airports and it is a good Eno story that began with a nervous flier and, er, an airport.

      Given your enjoyment of factoids, you might be vaguely interested in the music trivia that The Band did a very respectable version of the Third Man theme on their covers album ‘Moondog Matinee’.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That is a cool story. You sent me on a search for # 2 (Still looking for ‘The Big Gundown. I’m losing my mind). I’m sure I have it. I know a guy who plays the dulcimer he calls it his “Electric Snowshoe”. I was just mentioning that the other day. Also I’ve been on a Bruford binge. B.L.U.E. Nights is very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope the Bruford binge was satisfying. I imagine it was – he’s a class act!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup! Lots of diversity.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Groovy. Mass global migration seems to have brought loads of dulcimer buskers to Sweden. The best ones are absolutely nuts. It’s like shredding. With mallets. By the way, have you tried standing the ambient albums upright as a cube to see what the inner picture is like?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dulcimer buskers in Stockholm, eh? Only in summer, presumably.
      Yes, as a matter of fact. Using the Eno maps as four walls, I added Willie Nelson’s Stardust for a starry night sky and stuck my head up inside. Sadly, an untimely cough resulted in my left ear being severed by shooting vinyl so now I’m going to paint in stead of make music. Will call myself van Cough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fat Neil, the former lead maracca player with my globally unknown 90’s band The Longhairs, is a man fond of crap jokes. This involved us once going to the Tate Gallery in London to act out the following scene. Me: “Neil, do you want to see a Van Gogh?” Neil(from the other side of the room) : “No thanks mate, I’ve got one ‘ere” You had to be there.

        Liked by 1 person

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