Laraaji - Segue To Infinity (4xLP+Book)
The definitive collection of Laraaji's earliest works, Segue To Infinity compiles his 1978 debut Celestial Vibration and six additional side-long studio sessions from previously unknown acetates from the same period.
"Well before Brian Eno recruited Laraaji for the third installment of his epochal Ambient series, 1980’s Day of Radiance, the man born Edward Larry Gordon already had his own fully formed sound. Still, Laraaji’s origin story is often retold through his connection to the British musician. As the story goes, one day in 1978, Eno went walking in Washington Square Park and came upon a man strumming away on a zither. He dropped a note into his case, inviting him to a recording session, the fruit of which became Day of Radiance, his first album under the Laraaji alias. But before that fateful encounter, Gordon had already released Celestial Vibration earlier in the year, a record whose luminous, phaser-drenched sound and sprawling, side-long pieces shared a sensibility with the nascent ambient movement—right alongside contemporaneous releases like Harold Budd’s The Pavilion of Dreams and Eno’s own Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Numero Group’s four-LP box set Segue to Infinity essentially quadruples the length of Celestial Vibration with newly unearthed material from the era, somewhat incredibly discovered by a college student on eBay in 2021. It should definitively put a nail in the coffin of the narrative of Laraaji as a street busker who was simply “discovered” by Eno, instead cementing him as an preeminent figure in ambient and new-age music’s history.
On vinyl, Segue to Infinity is one track per side over four LPs, yielding a total runtime of three hours. It’s a perfect fit for Laraaji’s music, once again displaying his tendency to stretch his compositions over individual sides of whichever format he’s using (for example, he explored the expansive possibilities of the cassette by releasing his excellent 1981 album Unicorns in Paradise as two tracks, each over 40 minutes long). According to the liner notes, Laraaji himself doesn’t seem entirely sure of the circumstances of these recordings—most likely, they’re outtakes from the Celestial Vibration sessions at ZBS Studios—but the fact that each track hovers between 18 and 25 minutes suggests his taste for side-long compositions had already developed. Segue is a fearsomely symmetrical and compact compilation, and despite its great length, the quality of the music never flags." -Pitchfork