In 2010, I embarked on a life-changing journey through the entire ECM catalogue. Five years later, I reached synchronicity when I reviewed every album on the ECM, ECM New Series, and JAPO imprints. In the wake of that milestone, my attentions were pulled in many different directions, as I was simultaneously raising a new family, earning a Ph.D., teaching, publishing as both author and translator, sharpening my skills as a traveling music journalist and photographer, and pivoting into newfound spiritual awakenings. Consequently, my ability to keep step with ECM’s unflagging release schedule—which now averages one new album per week—waned in the light of these and other commitments. And so, imagine my (lack of) surprise when, upon deciding to resume this project in earnest, I realized that I had fallen behind by about 200 albums. On this, the 14th day of November 2019, I can humbly say that synchronicity has been restored. Whether by coincidence or unconscious design, just as my final “catch-up” release in 2015 was Keith Jarrett’s Creation, this time around it happens to be Jarrett’s Munich 2016, released only two weeks ago. The significance will hardly be lost on you, my dear readers. And how fortuitous, too, that I should arrive at this point in the heart of ECM’s 50th anniversary. Going forward, I aim to be your go-to source for the most up-to-date reviews and will be unveiling a few surprises, so stay tuned. The extent of my gratitude may just be bigger than the influence of the label to which I offer it. My deepest thanks to you for continuing to share it with me.
I am humbled and pleased to announce that my book on ECM is finally coming out this week. Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer is to be published by Rey+Naranjo in a first edition available only to the South American market, then as a global edition early next year (preorders will be available soon).
I have been graciously invited to present two talks at the Bogotá International Book Fair. My first talk will be “ECM Records: Listen, Watch and Remain Silent,” to be given this Sunday, April 28. The second will be “The Collector as Historian,” to be given on April 30th. Please attend and introduce yourself if you’re in the Bogotá area!
More to follow.
To my faithful readers: Do any of you have requests for albums you would like to see me review sooner rather than later?
Since reaching synchronicity with ECM in 2015, I have fallen behind a bit in the past few years. By my count, that leaves about 115 albums to catch up on. Check out the “By Catalogue #” page to see the albums I haven’t yet reviewed.
Looking forward to your suggestions!
To my dear readers: I’ve finally created an official Facebook page for this blog. Click here to stay informed and connected with other fans!
My latest translation into English, of the science fiction masterpiece Mr. Turtle by Japanese author Yusaku Kitano, is now available! Read the description below and click the cover to be directed to Amazon, or click here to peruse the publisher’s page. If you are at all a science fiction fan, you won’t want to miss this.
What’s a cyborg turtle to do when his shell is torn in two?
It’s a fair question in the bizarre, compelling world of Mr. Turtle. Originally published under the name of its protagonist as Kame-kun, this English translation captures all the visionary integrity that won it the Nihon SF Taisho (Japan’s Nebula) Award in 2001. Acclaimed in Japan for his quirky brilliance, Yusaku Kitano explores notions of nonhuman life in novels as diverse as Crayfish Man (2001), Fox Possession (2011), and even a series of animal-themed picture books for children. His love of humor and the absurd only serves to emphasize the underlying seriousness of his work, which in Mr. Turtle plumbs its most cerebral depths. Kame-kun is a hero in a half shell of an altogether different sort, a killing machine designed for combat who wants to enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life—working his blue-collar job, going to the library, and typing on his laptop—even as he is haunted by vague memories of a war on Jupiter. To determine his future he must piece together his past, navigating an unsympathetic society toward revealing the novel’s philosophical heartbeat.
A character study of surreal wit, Mr. Turtle mixes equal parts action and insight, all the while crafting an homage to its chosen genre unlike any other.
In a review I wrote last year of Aaron Parks’s Arborescence, I made a comparison to an Andrew Wyeth painting entitled Chambered Nautilus. Having spent my teens in the state of Connecticut, where this painting is housed at the Wadsworth Atheneum, I stood before this painting on many occasions but had rarely known a sonic equivalent until encountering some of the more recent ECM releases. In the interest of expanding the aesthetic connections of the music I review on these pages, I wanted to share some information about Artsy, an online source set up with the goal of making the world’s art free to view for all. In particular, the folks at Artsy have set up a fine Wyeth page, accessible by clicking the chamber below.
I have now reviewed every release in the JAPO catalogue. Shout outs to Craig LeHoullier, Steve Lake, and Bernd Webler for helping make my JAPO listening complete!
Any of you regular readers out there might have noticed that I recently reviewed the two latest XtraWATT albums. These stand as my backward entry into ECM’s other sub-labels. I do, of course, plan to also explore WATT and CARMO in full on this site, although such reviews may be sporadic, mixed in as they will be with the most up-to-date ECMs, along with albums from farther afield.
Below is a list of all JAPO releases, hyperlinked to my reviews for your convenience.
JAPO 60001 Mal Waldron The Call (Feb 1971)
JAPO 60002 Abdullah Ibrahim African Piano (Oct 1969)
JAPO 60003 Barre Phillips For All It Is (Mar 1971)
JAPO 60004 Herbert Joos The Philosophy of the Fluegelhorn (Jul 1973)
JAPO 60005 Dollar Brand Ancient Africa (Jun 1972)
JAPO 60006 Bobby Naughton Understanding (Oct 1971)
JAPO 60007 Edward Vesala Nan Madol (Apr 1974)
JAPO 60008 Jiří Stivín & Rudolf Dašek System Tandem (May 1974)
JAPO 60009 Children At Play s/t (1973)
JAPO 60010 Enrico Rava “Quotation Marks” (Dec 1973, Apr 1974)
JAPO 60011 Magog s/t (Nov 1974)
JAPO 60012 OM Kirikuki (Oct 1975)
JAPO 60013 Manfred Schoof Quintet Scales (Aug 1976)
JAPO 60014 Larry Karush/Glen Moore May 24, 1976 (May 1976)
JAPO 60015 Herbert Joos Daybreak (Oct 1976)
JAPO 60016 OM Rautionaha (Dec 1976)
JAPO 60017 Stephan Micus Implosions (Mar 1977)
JAPO 60018 Ken Hyder’s Talisker Land Of Stone (Apr 1977)
JAPO 60019 Manfred Schoof Quintet Light Lines (Dec 1977)
JAPO 60020 Rena Rama Landscapes (Jun 1977)
JAPO 60021 Globe Unity Orchestra Improvisations (Sep 1977)
JAPO 60022 OM OM with Dom Um Romao (Aug 1977)
JAPO 60023 Lennart Åberg Partial Solar Eclipse (Sep 1977)
JAPO 60024 Contact Trio New Marks (Jan 1978)
JAPO 60025 George Gruntz Percussion Profiles (Sep 1977)
JAPO 60026 Stephan Micus Till The End Of Time (Jun 1978)
JAPO 60027 Globe Unity Compositions (Jan 1979)
JAPO 60028 Barry Guy Endgame (Apr 1979)
JAPO 60029 TOK Paradox (Jun 1979)
JAPO 60030 Manfred Schoof Quintet Horizons (Nov 1979)
JAPO 60031 AMM III It Had Been an Ordinary Enough Day… (Dec 1979)
JAPO 60032 OM Cerberus (Jan 1980)
JAPO 60033 Elton Dean Quintet Boundaries (Feb 1980)
JAPO 60034 Peter Warren Solidarity
JAPO 60035 Tom van der Geld/Children At Play Out Patients (Jul 1980)
JAPO 60036 Contact Trio Musik (Oct 1980)
JAPO 60037 Es herrscht Uhu im Land s/t (Dec 1980)
JAPO 60038 Stephan Micus Wings Over Water (Jan 1981)
JAPO 60039 The Globe Unity Orchestra Intergalactic Blow (Jun 1982)
JAPO 60040 Stephan Micus Listen to the Rain (Jun 1980, Jul 1983)
JAPO 60041 Stephan Micus East Of The Night (Jan 1985)