The Pristine Empire of ECM Records 

Source: The New Yorker.

he German record label Edition of Contemporary Music, or ECM, which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, first made its name with elegant, atmospheric jazz albums that turned away from the melee of the post-bop avant-garde. Its most famous product, from 1974, was Keith Jarrett’s “The Köln Concert,” which, to its creator’s chagrin, became a mellow soundtrack to innumerable make-out sessions and coffeehouse transactions. ECM also established itself as a purveyor of classical minimalism, with best-selling disks devoted to Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt. The label’s austere design aesthetic—block letters, black-and-white photography, sparse notes—was consistent to the point of self-parody. Circa 1999, no sophisticated stereo stand was complete without an ECM CD showing, say, a picture of a collapsed stone wall.

Another Timbre New Releases Profiled

Source: The Wire.

“Early CDs concentrated primarily on improvisation,” declares Another Timbre founder Simon Reynell, “but over the years the label’s focus has shifted more towards compositions, in a journey from timbre to pitch.” The Sheffield based imprint adds five more releases to its vast back catalogue this month. Reynell talks us through the label’s most recent output

Pi Recordings Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Pi Recordings’s Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang will never forget the day they called Henry Threadgill to tell him he had won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music; he was only the third jazz artist to do so.

“We were so excited, we were tripping over each other trying to tell him about it,” laughs Wang. “And Henry was getting madder and madder, because he had no idea what we were talking about!”

Once all became clear, the mood was jubilant. “He’s really trying to invent his own musical language,” says Rosner of the master composer, saxophonist, and flutist. “For the Pulitzer people to finally recognize him for tackling this challenge—it’s definitely one of the prouder moments of my life.”

The Boundary-Pushing Music of 577 Records 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

“I’m always surprised when someone pays attention,” says Federico Ughi, co-founder of 577 Records, “because we’re the underground of the underground!” The self-appointed title is a joke, but it hints at both the label’s relatively low profile and—inadvertently—at the unifying sound running through all of their releases. The label, which is nearly two decades old, evades easy definition, producing experimental jazz that pushes beyond traditional boundaries.

577 Records was born from a series of house shows in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood in 2000, part of a shared project between Ughi and his friend and label co-founder, NYC jazz legend Daniel Carter. The pair hosted small monthly shows in Ughi’s apartment—not because they lacked venues, but as a way “to create a DIY space we could manage, a safe place for musicians. Instead of going somewhere else, it was something we could do for ourselves. That’s still the platform we have: musicians come first,” says Ughi. In the following year, Ughi and Carter founded their label, which they named after their apartment number.

The Sub Rosa Label Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

“We never wanted to create a record company,” says Guy-Marc Hinant. “I came to Brussels in the 1980s to study cinema. I met Fred Walheer and we started doing things together: publications, collages, performances. Then we had the idea to make records to link to a wider public…”

40 years later, Hinant and Walheer are still making records. Their collaborative project, Sub Rosa, is one of the most respected and influential labels specializing in avant-garde recordings, electronic experimentation, and anthropological field recordings. “The real question is why to release and to publish something rather than not doing it? What is the urgency of putting this out? For me, Sub Rosa is a perpetual flow,” Hinant says. “It’s very organic.”

Unexplained Sounds Label Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

The label Unexplained Sounds Group is dedicated to mapping the breadth and depth of experimental music from around the world. The label specializes in compilations of electroacoustic, ambient, noise, and contemporary composition from Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. Its rapidly expanding catalog offers an education in, and an introduction to, a global network of aural disorientation.

Raffaele Pezzella, the Italian founder of Unexplained Sounds, discovered experimental music in the 1990s, when he was in his early 20s. “Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma was one of the albums responsible for that shift in listening to music,” he says. From there he started exploring Brian Eno, John Hassel, and Terry Riley. “A completely different universe opened up before me… a revolution in my mind,” he says.