About

ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) is a German record label founded in 1969 by Manfred Eicher. Spanning the gamut from jazz to classical and various hybrids thereof, ECM has since its inception been at the forefront of contemporary music and has been widely recognized for its meticulous recordings and distinctive cover art.

The purpose of between sound and space is to provide a subjective and open forum for all things ECM. In May of 2015, I achieved my goal of reviewing every album released on the ECM and ECM New Series imprints and will be using this blog primarily to keep step with the label as it continues to expand it catalogue. I will be proceeding as chronologically as I am able, though the order of reviews will also depend on what I am listening to at the time and on the trajectory of future releases.

Image credits:
The header photograph is my own. All album covers and logos are the property of ECM.

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76 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi there,

    Just wondering about updating some information about recent Meredith Monk releases, including “mercy” and “impermanence”. Also curious about posting one of her you tube videos- “Hocket” from “Facing North”:

    Thank you!

    Peter Sciscioli, Assistant Manager
    Meredith Monk/The House Foundation for the Arts

    1. Hello, Peter,

      Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to post!

      I actually just drafted a review of “Volcano Songs” yesterday, and will post it soon. I will be more than happy to do write-ups on “mercy” and “impermanence” as well. Keep an eye out for them this week.

      And thank you for the YouTube suggestion. I have now added it to the videos page.

      -Tyran

  2. First visit and found much of interest. Passionate original writing, greatly to be commended. (Too many jazz blogs just cut and paste the Scott Yanow/ AllMusic review and think thats it.!) Adding a Youtube when you can find it adds an important dimension. Reading about music is good but its also nice to be able to hear what is being writing about. Keep up the god work. The world needs to hear more jazz to make it a better place.

    1. Thank you for such kind sentiments, and also for the YouTube suggestion. In the future, I hope to post samples (with ECM’s permission) in each review, as YouTube links of this nature tend to be very unstable or are taken down due to copyright infringements. And I agree 100% with your last comment. I have only come to recognize the powerful uplift of jazz in the past few years, and ECM has been instrumental in this awakening.

  3. Dear Tyran
    I have known your blog almost from the beginning but have only recently become more interactive in the blogging world! I realize how much I still have to discover about the music I love and will be catching up here and attempting to add a few thoughts when I feel able to contribute something verbal.
    It is a privilege to be added to your ‘Other Sites of Interest’ list – thank you.

    1. Dear Diana,

      I am touched by your words and feel fortunate that anyone would have been following my thoughts for so long. If and when you ever feel compelled to chime in on any of the music I have reviewed, feel free to do so. The more opinions, the merrier!

  4. Dear Tyran,
    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I recently got Spotify and read Geoff Dyer’s article on ECM (which I’ve been into since Crystal Silence). One thing led to another and I came upon and subscribed to your posts. Your reviews have led to much listening pleasure that I would otherwise have never come across. As others have said, I wish there were more people with your depth of knowledge who were willing to share it in this way. In the meantime, I’m extremely grateful that you are willing to do so.

    Best regards,
    Tom Lane

    1. Dear Tom,

      I am humbled by your compliments, and further strengthened to know that this music matters far beyond the little circle I am drawing with my drop-in-the-bucket reviews. I would be the last, however, to profess any depth of knowledge, for I only know what I hear and what the music tells me to say.

      Best,
      Tyran

      1. Dear Tyran,

        I suspect you’re being a bit more humble than appropriate, but I understand the impulse behind your response. Your dedication is commendable and I among many others am enriched by it.

        Best,
        Tom

  5. I can honestly say that the music on ECM changed/saved my life. After hearing Pat Metheney’s “Bright Size Life”, and subsequently Gary Burtons “Ring”, Keith Jarrett’s “My Song”, and albums by Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek, Bill Connors, Bill Frisell, Egberto Gismonte, Eberhard Weber and many others, I unequivocally devoted my life to music. I was a depressed teenager with nowhere else to turn. I now play, record, and engineer (Live and Studio) music for a living. Manfred Eicher has done a great service to me, other musicians, and the world… Three cheers for ECM and Manfred Eicher!!!

    Omar Rane.

    1. Thank you, Omar, for sharing your love of ECM, which I can relate to wholeheartedly, for it changed me in much the same way. The music of ECM was a defining discovery of my teens that led me out of some very dark places. Being able to listen alone in my room, with headphones and portable CD player, comforted me in ways that nothing else ever did. Where for you it was the jazz greats you list (many of whom I only discovered later, as my introduction was through the New Series), it was the work of Arvo Pärt, Paul Giger, David Darling, and the Hilliard Ensemble that first smoothed out the creases of my emotional map. Now that I’ve opened myself through this review project to nooks of the catalogue I’d never explored (if you can believe it, I only heard The Köln Concert for the first time when I wrote my review for it two years ago!), ECM’s significance has only emboldened itself across the ever-changing landscape that is my life. And so, I gladly take up your call and add my voice to three cheers (and infinitely more) for Herr Eicher and his team.

      1. Thank you Tyran for creating this blog. It’s funny, but I tell people about ECM all the time, and very few people have ever heard of it. Anyhow, it sounds like you and I had similar experiences, although I had a turntable and some killer Magnat speakers that I bought washing dishes in a restaurant that I would turn really loud. My friends were all listening to Pink Floyd and AC/DC and such and was listening to stuff like “Nude Ants” and “New Chataqua”.

        p.s. I have loads of original music in the ECM style on my soundcloud page at http://soundcloud.com/tonefreak66 if you have time check out any of my stuff under the set called “Original Acoustic Guitar Music by Omar Rane”

        Thanks again, Omar Rane.

      2. I often get the same reaction from people about ECM. All the more reason to educate! By the way, your music is beautiful. I’m particularly fond of “Adios Amigo” and “So Long Old Friend.” Seems like I gravitate toward the farewells 🙂 Love “Billy Goat Gruff,” too. Can definitely hear the Metheny influence.

  6. Thanks for listening Tyran, it really means a lot to me. Yes there is a Metheny influence, but also, I feel, Ralph Towner, Egberto Gismonte, and Bill Connors influenced me greatly. I want to be an ECM artist when I grow up…
    PS, If you haven’t yet reviewed Ralph Towner and Gary Peacock’s ECM release “Oracle”, it’s awesome.
    BTW, I have been writing some new music, I’ll keep you posted…

  7. Dear Tyran,

    actually I do not know where to post this comment. Maybe you already knew about this, but I have found an interesting interview with Manfred Eicher on FORA.tv:

    fora.tv/2009/11/19/Jazz_A_Conversation_with_Manfred_Eicher

    It’s worth watching!

    With best regards from Germany,

    Marty

  8. Hi Tyran,

    I have just find your blog. I’m a big fan of ECM and I’m glad I found a place to talk about it.
    I do not like all ECM discography but all ECM phenomenon it’s fantastic. It’s a example of great professionalism.

    Did you have any information about the ECM photographers ?

    Regards from Romania,

    Emilian

    1. Hello, Emilian. Thanks for stopping by the site. Your photography is stunning, and I could certainly imagine some of it on an ECM album cover. Unfortunately, I do not have any connections to ECM photographers. Best of luck in your work, Tyran

  9. Tyran — Consistent with others, I truly applaud your efforts. Your reviews truly reflect the deep appreciation you have (and I share) for the ECM label. I’d be interesting in knowing whether Steve Lake or others from ECM have contacted you to comment on your website. For me, as a long time enthusiast (since my vinyl purchase of Circle Paris Concert about thirty years ago), I continue to closely follow the ECM label, and your website serves as a principal part of my recreational web surfing. Thank you again for everything you’ve done for this wonderful artform.

    1. I’m so grateful for your comments, which confirm that what I’m doing is meaningful at least to a subset of the listening public. This project has been the least I can do in return for all that ECM has given me. I have indeed been in contact with Steve Lake, about whom I’m sporadically working on a three-part interview and exploration of his contributions to the label as producer, so stay tuned for that in the coming months. I will also have something of a surprise piece early next year, which I hope my readers will appreciate.

  10. Hi Tyran,

    Many thanks for your long list of exceptionally considered reviews of the ECM stable over 2012.
    I have read each one with interest, and always look forward to the next.
    You have now earned, and deserve, a nice long rest over the Christmas and New Year festive season – for a change I recommend a darkened room, a good hi-fi system, a glass of your favourite tipple and an above subliminal listening of Bang on a Can’s version of Brian Eno’s ‘Music For Airports’.
    That should re-set you for another big year of Rypdal, Towner, Garbarek and the rest of the ECM ‘noise’.
    Happy Christmas and, again, many thanks,

    Terry

  11. What a treat for a Monday morning to find you had posted a piece with a link to my London Jazz Festival Nordic review, and a lovely mention of my art work. Thanks for the compliment from a non music professional! Best wishes, Diana

  12. Yesterday I received the new ECM catalogue 2013 which is offered through their website. I was intrigued to read about a 6 CD box “Selected Signs III – VIII” which had been released to go with the exhibition in Munich. Beautiful packaged with pergament paper and a stellar compilation as far as I am concerned by only glancing at the featured musicians….. Amazingly, the box set isn’t listed at amazon.com, I only found it here –> http://www.shirokko-online.de/ECM-Selected-Signs-Box

  13. not really ‘reviews’ are they!? more like ‘attempts at creatrive writing inspired by music’ – what are we meant to do with stuff like ‘The cup has tipped, its contents spreading in a partially eclipsed circle. In this pool where broken mirrors float, we see the multiplicity of our genetic code’s sonority. Harmonics are the edges of fingernails on glass, and further the edge of that glass on
    sky. Resonant beauty briefly surfaces—a dolphin’s back—before plunging into the brine of
    discovery.’ ( Maneri ‘Angles of repose’) ?! -Such ‘reviews’ aren’t much help to me…

    1. I apologize, Howard: some of my writings are more impressionistic than others, some more like listening diaries than standard reviews. With such unique music as that created on Angles of Repose, I am attempting to give those who haven’t heard it an idea of what it feels like. I’m afraid that my language makes more sense to me than to anyone else. Perhaps a translation of my description of “Number Six” that you quote will suffice:

      “The cup has tipped, its contents spreading in a partially eclipsed circle” refers to the fact that “Number Six” is the tipping point into the album’s second half (hence, “partially eclipsed,” as the album is not yet finished). “In this pool where broken mirrors float, we see the multiplicity of our genetic code’s sonority” is just my way of saying that, while the music possesses an overall coherence, said coherence emerges at the coming together of many fragments (“broken mirrors”). Those fragments are mirrors because they take on whatever they reflect. In other words, this music is what we make of it. “Harmonics are the edges of fingernails on glass, and further the edge of that glass on sky” refers to the subtle yet piercing quality of Mat Maneri and Barre Phillips’s flurry of bowed harmonics at around the seven-minute mark. And finally, “Resonant beauty briefly surfaces—a dolphin’s back—before plunging into the brine of discovery” refers to the brief consonance achieved thereafter, which stands out (in my mind, at least) like the glistening back of a dolphin, before returning to the magnetic swirl of dissonance that is the trio’s default. And by “discovery” I mean the fresh paths of improvisation these three musicians tread, filled with the same sense of wonder as the listener at what transpires.

      Perhaps none of this makes it any clearer, but I can only hope that my less straightforward reviews are of use to someone. Either way, I thank you for the comments, for I always strive to please as many readers as possible. In light of that, I will be happy to write a companion review of this album that is more user-friendly in hopes that it will guide others into this fascinating music rather than turn them away.

      1. As for Howard James critism: I do not agree with him. I prefer the pictures Tyran paints with his writing about the music as they create images in my head while I read his blog entries.

  14. i don’t deny that they are ‘pictures painted with writing’- that’s just my point – i.e.e they aren’t ‘reviews’! if you find them useful to create images while listening, then i guess they serve a purpose. too often though, for me at least, they become parodies of themselves – rather like alot of ecm releases these days. i loved the label’s output in the ’70’s, but now, i find less and less to interest me…and those terrible cd covers!- interchangable blurred black-and-white photos of nothing in particular!

  15. Lovely website. Lovely reviews. Lovely label. ECM and its musicians have given my life much. You come so close to articulating the ineffable in the experience of this music, Tyran. Thank you.

    1. And thank you, Jacob, for the lovely words in turn. I don’t think I’ll ever come close to articulating the importance of ECM and its music in my life, but this site is my best effort. Glad to know you feel the same.

      1. I imagine that your listening is not taken lightly. I would love to know how your listening time is structured, how you listen.

      2. You imagine correctly, Jacob. One of the reasons I began this website, along with the challenge of familiarizing myself with every album of my favorite record label, was to discipline myself to really listen to music again on its own terms. As a busy graduate student, now with an almost year-old son on the verge of becoming mobile, it was important for me to relieve music from the role it had taken in my life as background to my academic activities (while writing papers, researching, etc.). This reviews project has not only given me the pleasure (not to mention the privilege) of knowing the necessity of music in our lives, but also a deeper knowledge of the many artists and idioms ECM represents. That being said, because I do live a busy lifestyle, much of my listening takes place on headphones as I am walking to and from campus and between classes. By this method I am able to listen to sometimes two albums a day. I dictate my reviews into a digital voice recorder as I listen, so that I can get my most immediate thoughts out. I then transcribe them at home and edit them as I listen to the album again. Lately I’ve taken to listening to albums late at night when my wife and son are asleep, and writing reviews as I go in a drowsy haze.

    1. I’ve been collecting ECM since I was a teenager, so I’ve amassed quite a bit of the catalogue myself over the years. As for the rest: some I’ve borrowed from friends who’ve lent me chunks of their collection (one of my readers, for example, has about half of the JAPO releases on tape and kindly lent me all of them for review), some from my university library, and more recently I’ve had the privilege of receiving promo copies of newer releases for review, which helps keep costs down and allows me to give my readers an early, informed glimpse of what’s on the horizon. Since I’ve become more visible as a reviewer with eclectic tastes, I’ve also received review copies of independent artists’ material from other labels and have discovered some marvelous music in the process.

  16. Hahaha, and I though *I* was the biggest fan with the biggest collection! 🙂

    Hi Tyran!
    I just discovered this peculiar project, and am astonished.

    Yet, the purpose is still escaping me.
    As ECM catalogue took monumental dimensions, I slightly miss the point of young person running to catch all the past and present releases of the label.
    But nevertheless, i appreciate the idea, and the work you are putting in. Since early internet times, reviews of ECM titles become helpful to many of us, trying to peek inside the cd’s content before buying. So this blog will surely help in that quest.
    I can’t really imagine but maybe a few persons in this world, who invested some 25,000 dollars to collect the *whole* catalogue. If anyone happens to hear about them, please inform the rest of us. 🙂
    It is also very nice that Steve Lake expressed support for this project, I like that.

    As a seasoned listener, or another guy who had ECM music as a background to a life since early youth, what I would suggest is – slower listening. I think many of ECM (and especially New Series) wasn’t created for fast digestion. In fact, I strongly believe it was created for *enjoyment*, a quiet one maybe. A special kind of ear’s and mind’s feast.
    And should be listened as such. But we know that already.

    What strikes me from the visitors comments, and in fact I noticed that over past 10-15 years or so, is that ECM is being listened by YOUNG people, too. That fascinates me. Maybe there is a hope for this world, after all.

    Have a good time with all those upcoming cd’s, and drop a line if you need a help sometimes! 🙂
    – Greg

    1. Hi, Greg! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you will find something of interest as you pore through the backlog 😉 I understand your confusion about the purpose of my project, and all I can say is that it is for me a very personal one. As I’m sure I’ve expressed countlessly throughout this site, ECM has been a major part of my life, and so much of its music has come to define me as a person, as a listener, and (in more recent years) as a writer. It is precisely because I am of a younger generation and discovered ECM later in the game, as it were, that I felt compelled to start from the beginning, that I might trace the label’s evolution to the present. It has fulfilled other purposes along the way (teaching me more about jazz, for instance, because I first came to ECM as a classical listener through its New Series) and in the process has become what I hope will always be a unique and helpful resource about one of the world’s most important recording establishments.

      As for your suggestion to take things more slowly, I am total agreement. Thankfully, I was very familiar with about half of ECM’s catalogue before I began the project, so reviewing that much of it was more intuitive. Looking back at the earliest releases and at the fascinating JAPO titles has yielded handfuls of discoveries as well as insights into established artists. As for those albums I am encountering for the first time, I will typically have heard them at least two or three times before posting a final review, so I do give myself some time to digest. Also, I do go back and edit, expand, and occasionally even rewrite older reviews as I go back to certain albums with newer understandings and associations. In fact, once I have caught up with ECM, I plan on doing an ongoing series of “second take” reviews on albums that I believe deserve deeper attention in this regard. I am comfortable with my process at it stands now insofar as it allows me to get in touch with my gut reactions to new music, which I believe are valuable and are too often edited out by overthinking. As a graduate student, I tend to feel bogged down by over-intellectualizing, and this project allows me to indulge in a more immediate, and honest, form of expression. Of course, all of this music will be with me my entire life, and it will continue to grow accordingly. And if, as you so kindly suggest, my reviews can help others make decisions about which music they wish to include in their own lives, then I can feel content in knowing that none of this was in vain.

  17. Tyran,

    Very nice job at portraying those great ECMs ; there are so many fine releases by this unique record label, my favourite along with BIS and EMI Classics. Interesting, and illuminating, articles and comments. Some great web pages to which I refer to time and again.

  18. Tyran,
    I just discovered this resource, I’ve been a long time fan of ECM, I think I started listening to them around 1975… although, to be honest, I was about 18 back then, and some music was beyond my comprehension… Some of it hit me right away – I remember listening to Garbarek’s Eventyr, or Rypdal’s Descendre back in those years… Some of it required a few years in the shelves to be rediscovered 10, 20 years later… Anyway, ECM became a brand, I would just buy every LP/CD I could even if I had no idea about the artist or their work… Always to be rewarded with something amazing… I imagine I will now start spending hours (days? months?) reading your work…
    Thanks, and don’t stop writing!

    Juan

  19. anyone else disappointed that the ‘old masters’ (?) sets eg Codona don’t have the origial album art work? i sent mine back after purchasing the set…

  20. What a great resource. Thank you for all the work. I’ll be telling other people about this site. And I have a request that might seem a little frivolous. Sometimes I’m trying to decide between buying an ECM album on disk vs mp3, and one of the deciding factors is whether I want the liner notes or not. If it’s just personnel and not much more, I’ll buy mp3. But if, for instance, there are lyrics, and they’re printed in the cd material, I’ll buy the cd. Or if there’s a lot of info about the artist(s), etc. So, if you could briefly describe the liner note contents, that would be great.
    (p.s. email address given here is bogus–long story but my real addresses are linked to accounts on WordPress that don’t belong to me, and I haven’t been able to get them back. But I am a real person. :-))

    1. Thanks for writing, Maclin, and for your kind comments! I always try to quote from liner notes in my reviews, whenever appropriate, but I can certainly try to give a more descriptive gist in that regard in the future.

  21. Tyran you’ve taken on an epic project. I’ll enjoy revisiting old favourites and those I’ve overlooked or never heard! Regards from Thom at the immortal,jukebox (plugged in now).

  22. Dear Tyran. Many thanks for a superb blog! I have been viewing it off and on for a few years now and it has been a fount of knowledge! Best wishes. Jim

  23. I have an inquiry:

    I’m sure you’re aware of the perceived split between European jazz and American jazz. Do you believe that this division is purely stylistic or that their is some greater underlying methodological or conceptual distinction between the Americans and Europeans (especially ECMers)? Perhaps you argue that this split is, in fact, nonexistent?

  24. Tyran,
    I think your blog is one of the few things that justify the existence of the Internet.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and recommendations with us!
    Ivan.

  25. Tyran,

    Do you know when The Pat Metheny Group CD (1114/825 593-2) was first released?. I can’t find this information anywhere. Thanks!.

  26. Hello Tyran, I’ve been reading this blog for long time now without even knowing there was a single person behind the excellent reviews I appreciated.
    Now my friend Juan Hitters tells me bout you and it is a pleasure to add a person and a name on top of these articles. God job here really,
    Nice to met you then. Stay in touch by PM, it’ll be my pleasure.
    Cheers
    Daniel Diaz

  27. Hey – never quite sure where to leave general comments. Forgive if I have used the wrong section! I noticed you reviewed a Sheila Jordan live concert above which prompted me to ask post this question/comment
    I spend spend too much time reading your reviews! I know I must be wrong but I can’t find your review of Playground by Sheila Jordan and Steve Kuhn. I have been playing it a lot in the car and find it gorgeous to listen to if I’m driving From work to home! I feel a bit ashamed that I play Gentle Thoughts so much. I realise the album might be seen as unsophisticated and a processed and popular but I would like to read your thoughts.

  28. Hello, I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I enjoy your site and reviews. I often marvel at your command over the language and love reading your reviews as much for the writing as for getting to know a particular ECM album. Beautiful work and very much appreciated by me and a host of others I am sure.

    Best regards
    Gopal

  29. Does anyone know what the names of the Renaissance pieces are on Ketil Bjørnstad’s THE RIVER? I’d be curious to hear the originals of the pieces by William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons.

    1. Hi, Jeffrey! I know that the Byrd piece is based on his “Qui passe,” but am not sure about the Gibbons (although I imagine it might be one of his fantasias). Really, though, Bjørnstad and Darling used these pieces as harmonic frameworks for deeper improvisations, so the music became something all its own in the recording process.

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