Brian Eno/Laraaji – Ambient 3: Day of Radiance

Day of Radiance is a little different from the other three members of Eno’s seminal ambient series. It sounds upbeat and happy! How much happy ambient music do you hear?

This album is basically a Laraaji album produced by Brian Eno. This album is the brightest and most upbeat in Eno’s Ambient series. Edward Gordon, known as Laraaji, is unusual in that he plays an electric, open-tuned zither. Laraaji connected with Eno and created his debut album in the form of Day of Radiance.

The pieces on Ambient 3 serve as a contrast to the other albums, especially Ambient 4. While Ambient 4 is dark, muted, and a little scary, Ambient 3 is bright and full of light. Much of Day of Radiance has a clear beat, which is exceptional for Eno’s ambient work. The sound is also much more direct and clear than other members of the series.

The result is a bright, upbeat sound.

The first set of pieces, “The Dances 1-3”, have a bouncy dance tempo. Laraaji’s playing sounds a little like hammered dulcimer on these cuts, but without hummable melodies, or simple forms. The result of the rhythmic playing combined with Eno’s studio treatements is a pulsating wash of dancing notes that seem to cascade out of the speakers.

The second group of pieces, “Meditation”, fits in more with Eno’s other ambient work. While still bright and unmuted, these pieces are slower, and lack a clear pulse. This creates an effect of a sound aura.

Overall, Day of Radiance is an excellent addition to Eno’s series. Ambient 3 staked out new territory and new emotions for ambient music. The music is happy, even blissful, while remaining reflective and timeless. These pieces serve as an important counterpoint to the darker and sometimes disturbing music of Ambient 4.

Day of Radiance was Laraaji’s first album, and probably his strongest work. Eno seems to have the ability as a producer to bring out some of the best in a variety of musicians, and he certainly did with Laraaji. While some of Laraaji’s other albums are excellent, Day of Radiance stands out in the way it sustains the idea of Radiance throughout an extended ambient work.

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