Best ECM Albums: 50 Must-Hear Classics From The Legendary Jazz Label

Source: Yahoo Entertainment.

It wouldn’t be totally inaccurate to describe the German jazz label ECM as “the house that Keith Jarrett built.” After all, the American pianist’s 1975 album The Köln Concert has sold a staggering three and a half million copies and undoubtedly helped to establish – both financially and aesthetically – Manfred Eicher’s Munich-based imprint. More than that, Jarrett’s success transformed ECM into a major contender in the jazz world, and the best ECM albums reveal an astonishing commitment to quality control that has more than ensured its place in the jazz pantheon.

Innova Recordings Celebrates 40 Years

Source: I Care If You Listen.

This year marks the 40th anniversary for innova Recordings – a record label that has gone through many phases as their focus has expanded to embrace a dynamic range of artists, genres, and styles.

Recently, record labels, streaming platforms, live tours, and the music industry as a whole have been under fire for being unaccommodating to artists at all levels; failing to treat them holistically and instead engaging in predatory and capitalistic ventures that ultimately cause financial (and creative) harm. innova seeks to combat this exploitative field by “offering artistic and technical guidance throughout the recording and publication process,” helping artists bring forth their visions as authentically as possible, while also implementing wide-reaching distribution and marketing practices that bring work to global audiences.

The Line Label Profiled

Source: Clotmag.

A Line, a succession of points, a fine line, a route; or many, like when talking about LINE as a label, house, family and source of inspiration founded by sound artist Richard Chartier 22 years ago. Sometimes conceptual, sometimes abstract, sometimes somewhere between the two, or just out of any category, the works published by this label condense a vast and exotic catalogue of sound art, initially created as a division of the mythical 12k, to later become independent in its own search, permeated by a marked but broad vision of sonic minimalism.

New World Records Maps the Past and Future of American Music 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

New World Records describes its purpose as being “dedicated to the documentation of American music that is largely ignored by the commercial recording companies. Like the university press, New World preserves neglected treasures of the past and nurtures the creative future of American music. In an industry obsessed with million-unit sales and immediate profits, New World chooses artistic merit as its indicator of success.” The locations that New World charts and connects span an extraordinary range of music-making, from the most traditional to the most experimental, and everything (non-commercial) in between.

Bureau B: A Gateway to the Kosmische 

Source: Bandcamp Daily

Founded in 2005, Bureau B has established itself as a foundational label when it comes to documenting Germany’s rich musical history of alternative and underground music. It has steadily been releasing and reissuing classic albums, as well as offering rare and new works, by a host of pivotal and influential German artists who often fall under the krautrock or kosmische label. These include Faust, Cluster, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Conrad Schnitzler, and Kraftwerk’s Karl Bartos.

Another Timbre and Apartment House Labels Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Over the course of the last decade or so, the Sheffield, England label Another Timbre—operated by Simon Reynell—has established itself as one of the most reliably adventurous and exploratory forces in contemporary music. When the label dropped its first release in 2007, a trio recording with trumpeter Axel Dörner, clarinetist Xavier Charles, and saxophonist John Butcher, it was focused largely on improvised music. Over time, it’s drifted toward composed work, albeit with an emphasis on open scores. While they’ve presented work by canonical composers like John Cage, Terry Riley, and Morton Feldman, the imprint’s main thrust overwhelmingly focuses on the music of living composers, including many associated with the post-Cagean Wandelweiser Collective. Most of the music features some combination of quietude, sustained tones, and performer input. It’s contemporary classical for the future, invested in collective creation and close listening rather than athletic virtuosity.

Electroacoustic & Noise from Osaka

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

This past May, Kazuo Uehara, a musician from Osaka, passed away. Uehara’s name may ring a bell for enthusiasts of Hiroshi Yoshimura, whose environmental compositions have proved a test case for subtle music that, when rediscovered and spread online, can circumvent barriers of generation and taste. The two artists worked closely together: Yoshimura’s acclaimed 1986 album GREEN was not only produced by Uehara, it was also released by his label AIR Records Inc. For a time, Uehara traveled and played around the world, performing at the Kitchen in New York and making contact with the giants of musique concrète in Paris.

Ezz-thetics Reissues ’60s Free-Jazz Classics

Source: Downbeat.

Due to Switzerland’s public domain laws, material recorded prior to 1970 doesn’t require any licensing agreement, so Uehlinger, with the massive help of recording engineer Michael Brändli, has been releasing new packages of previously issued work from artists like Marion Brown, Archie Shepp, John Coltrane and Paul Bley, to say nothing of vintage Charlie Parker work. In many cases the improved fidelity is jaw-dropping.

A Guide to Canada’s Classical Label Redshift Music 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

At the core of the label is Canada, and multiple styles that cover minimalism and post-minimalism, acoustic instruments mixed with electronic processing, ambient aesthetics, and guitar rock. Every release has the stamp of the label’s purpose, to showcase the expanse of musical thinking across that enormous country, music full of ideas expressed through an intimate sound.

The Meticulous Curation of Another Timbre 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

In a suburb to the southwest of Sheffield, Simon Reynell lives with his huge music collection. As he describes it, there’s not much to see, “save for a chaotic spare room full of boxes of CDs and a couple of computers.” If its founder weren’t so modest, Reynell’s label Another Timbre could become a totalizing force in the world of contemporary music. Instead, their commitment to elevating obscurity and their intimate, minimal aesthetics has cultivated a dedicated following who share their passion for understatement.