As a prelude to his 2017 full-length Bring on the Sun, new age hero Laraaji released a shorter recording called Sun Gong, containing two side-long pieces for gong and electronic effects. In some ways, the release seems darker and colder than most Laraaji recordings, almost veering on dark ambient works like Thomas Köner's Nunatak Gongamur (also created using gongs). The album's first side is sparse and haunting, with effects processing the vibrations so that they seem to be traveling through the room (headphones or first-rate Surround Sound speakers are required!), and sometimes coming close to sounding like shifting, blurry melodies. Laraaji's voice appears at the very end of the side -- it rises up, becomes reflected and refracted, and dissipates into the air. The second side has additional instruments, including chimes and some sort of rainstick or other fluid-sounding rattling of small stones or beads. There's also more rapid cymbal-hitting, as well some very strange chanting filtered to sound like it's coming from some sort of alien monk. Once again, Laraaji's voice wafts in at the very end, almost identically to how it closes the first side. Overall, this is quite different (and stranger) than most Laraaji recordings, but even without his laughter or his autoharp, everything he does radiates positive energy, and this is simply another fantastic entry in his catalog.
Sun Gong Review
by Paul Simpson