Following the opening of A Time for New Dreams at Serpentine Galleries, Grace Wales Bonner presented a devotional sound evening at St John’s Church, featuring Sampha, Laraaji, Klein and special guests.
Hosted by Serpentine Galleries, Young Turks and The Store X, this was the first off-site event in a series of happenings that explored the themes of mysticism, spirituality and ritual as part of the month-long Grace Wales Bonner exhibition.
Performances from Klein, Sampha, Laraaji and special guests with Pure Vegetarian and Karma-free food.
Composer and playwright Klein is an artist whose neoteric vision has seen her quickly become one of the UK’s most intriguing and unpinnable producers and performers. She uses collagist techniques to assemble recordings of her own vocals and instrumentation into unique soundscapes with references ranging from mythology to Pavarotti and the very ideology of the defunct TV network Trouble.
Based in New York City, Laraaji attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C. on a scholarship to study composition and piano. Laraaji began playing music on the streets in the 1970s, improvising trance-inducing jams on a modified autoharp processed through various electronic effects. It was during this time that he began to study Eastern mysticism, believing that he had found a new path for his music and life. In 1979, Brian Eno saw Laraaji playing in Washington Square Park and invited him to record an album for his seminal Ambient series (Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance, released 1980). Eno has continued to influence Laraaji’s music, as has the work of Alice Coltrane, Constance Demby, Iasos, Harold Budd and J. D. Emmanuel. It was also during this time that Laraaji was invited to the new age bookshop, Tree of Life, in Harlem, where he would donate music to accompany live readings. Two of the brothers who owned the shop intuited a past life with consciousness and music within Laraaji and came up with the name that he goes by today. A celestial music pioneer whose work traverses the monastic and the ecstatic, Laraaji has continued to expand his mystic studies with gurus such as Swami Satchidananda and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, founder of the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York.