Reduced by Laraaji

The soundtrack to a reduced frame of mind and an expanding resource to encourage better self-care. Explore the archive.

Students of early hip-hop may be aware of the smallprint on the back sleeve of LL Cool K’s 1985 album Radio. In one of his earliest projects, a burgeoning star was credited as “Reduced by Rick Rubin”, in homage to his pioneering minimalist arrangement. It’s with Rick’s same approach to musical minimalism that this series emerges: stripping sound back to its most transcendental, restorative and atmospheric textures to block out the noise and aid focus, attunement and relaxation.

Discussions have come a long way in recent years, but there still remains a taboo around not being okay. To accompany, we’ll also be speaking to each guest about their experiences with self-care and, if they’re comfortable sharing, mental health. We’ll unpack personal processes, explore the nuances of self-care across cultures and raise awareness of charities with a personal connection. Maintaining good mental health is very much an individual process, but we hope this will grow into an evolving resource of knowledge and experience to provide solace, inspiration, reassurance and company in difficult times. 

Launching the series, the day before World Mental Health Day, is composer, pianist, meditation instructor and the doyen of serenity, Laraaji. For nearly half a century he’s studied and practised mind science, mysticism, and one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy called the Vedanta. With an output of nearly one album a year for four decades, his prolific work as a musician predates the popularisation of meditation and ambient, but remains as crucial to listeners and artists now as he did back in 1978, when Brian Eno dropped a note into his zither case when busking in Washington Square Park.

Both his music and entire being centres around luminosity, introspection, calmness, healing and, oftentimes joy, as a host of regular laughter meditation workshops (the logical amalgamation for a former comedian operating in sonic-spirituality). This first Reduced session is a specially recorded one hour live set, which Laraaji recommends listening to with a blindfold on, or “while receiving/giving massage, while meditative dancing or in yoga savasana corpse poise”. He’s also shared some thoughts on self-care, spirituality and mental health.

Laraaji’s new album Moon Piano is out now, a suite of 10 introspective and minimal piano pieces, recorded in a Brooklyn church with Jeff Zeigler.

Subscribe to STW on Mixcloud to download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in the tracklists get paid. Read more about our decision here.

What does self-care mean to you?

Being mindful of the most essential self ..for me it means constantly witnessing as this spiritual being and feeling my spiritual nature which is transcendental, invisible, timeless, absolute…caring for the spirit self or being mindful as spirit allows me to be present in the world in a body more bliss connection.

What does your daily or weekly self-care routine look like? 

Daily care involves deep still sitting, meditative movement, nada yoga (witnessing eternal inner tone current) journaling, park walks, music exploration and recording, vegetarian diet, and mindful speech.

Can you tell us about a self-care spot you regularly use at home and how have made it an optimum spot?

A comfortable chair near sunlit window, near inspirational reading material.

Is there an outdoor location where you go to find tranquility?

Central Park, Riverside Park, New York City.

What benefits has self-care brought you over the years? 

Easy in my 70’s, I’m able to dance and move freely.

Are there any specific techniques you favour or come back to more frequently? 

Deep stretch & breathing, deep meditative visionary relaxation.

What was the idea behind your Reduced set?

Joyful, celebrating, positive,

How would you advise listening to your set?

Blindfolds, or while receiving giving massage, while meditative dancing, in yoga savasana corpse poise.

Do you think being part of the music industries has had any implications for your mental health. If so, what have you done to cope with it?

Music performance is enlivening and spiritually nurturing..

Are there any changes you’d like to see to help look after collective and individual mental health in the music industries.

Explore any health benefits of listening to more music recorded and performed in A:432 hz frequency as opposed to the current A:440 hz standard

What advice would you give to people who are suffering from poor mental health and either can’t understand why or don’t know where to turn? 

Re-examine your food diet, and your living environment for toxic elements.

Based on experiences where others have helped you, what advice would you give to those who are close to someone who’s suffering but doesn’t know how best to support them

Breathe and smile and using soothing to tone of voice. Being present.

*For the purposes of this series we’ll be using “self-care” as the term to group together the various practices that aid better mental health. These can be specific meditation techniques or anything that aids relaxation, health and happiness.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

World Mental Health Day is 10th October.

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