Thursday, 22 October 2009

Blues and Soul Review - Horizons Touched: The Story of ECM

Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM (Granta)

Published in Blues and Soul July 22nd

No record label ever swam against the tide quite as audaciously as ECM. Founded by Manfred Eicher in 1969, Edition of Contemporary Music continuously produces unassailably challenging albums, consisting of a more European, intellectual and classical strain of jazz, characterised by its musical space, sensitivity, crisp production values and compositional rigour.
Horizons Touched, published by Granta, is a handsome, quality hardback containing hundreds of articles, interviews and biographies of the people who make the label. It includes personal essays and memories by or about ECM artists (including Charles Lloyd and Keith Jarrett), articles about ECM’s intriguing relationship with film (via Jean-Luc Godard) and the ideas behind its enigmatic cover designs. Passionate, wide-ranging and carefully compiled, Horizons Touched is a fitting tribute to a label whose artistic vision and integrity has never wavered throughout the whims and excesses of musical fashions over the last forty years. It remains to be seen how ECM will weather the storms of the next forty years, what with downloads and the steady deterioration of more challenging musical culture, but this book should at least preserve its achievements thus far.