About two years ago something beckoned Aaron Raays back to the West Coast. “It was a deep intuitive sense I was to come home,” he says. His return coincided with a renaissance of experimental new age-minded music percolating in L.A. — meditative daytime synth happenings in Highland Park, with frequent collaborations among many of the players.
Raays, who previously performed with indie acts ranging from Gardens & Villa, leftfield club duo Playces, and New Jersey hip-hop hero Moruf Adewunmi, began a new exploratory project called PRELUDE. The album is the culmination of Raays’ many years studying improvisational jazz, ambient, world rhythms, and hazy beat-making.
PRELUDE’s keen interest in percussion unfolds across 23 minutes. Soft radio waves and crystalline wind chimes greet us at the gate, the blurry, lunar hip-hop production of Clams Casino a loose touchstone. Raays’ electronic drum rig cleverly mutates textures and cymbal crashes, conjuring marching band rhythms and jazz percussion odysseys, drawing on decades of experience; he’s been performing since the age of six.
PRELUDE is also a tribute to Raays’ high school jazz instructor and mentor, the late Isaac Jenkins. “He taught about life through the language of music,” Raays says. The chiming tropical synth line towards the end is deeply lyrical, like a farewell expressed through the language of dreams.
“I want the listener to superimpose their own experience onto the music, something words can’t always touch on,” Raays explains. “To create the basis for reflection. That’s what I’ve always loved about instrumental music.”