Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer – Re: ECM

January 01, 1970






Over the last 15-odd years, it
seems as though just about every legendary jazz label worth its weight in musty
cardboard record jackets has been subject to the remix treatment, from Savoy to Verve to
Impulse! to Blue Note (three times over, in fact). But to think Manfred Eicher
would ever allow the hallowed modality of his long-running German tastemaker
imprint Edition of Contemporary Music, or ECM, be desecrated by the likes of a
motley bunch of DJs and beatmakers is akin to the concept of giving the Mad
guys editorial control over The New Yorker.


However, the legendary
Munich-based imprint is certainly no stranger to electronic music, as artists
such as Arild Andersen, Phillipp Wachsmann, Paul Lytton, Walter Prati,
Christian Fennesz and Ambrose Field have all incorporated live programming into
several recording sessions through the years, and releases such as Kurtagonals and Nils-Petter Molvaer’s Khmer remix project have shown that the
label is, in fact, quite open to expanding the boundaries of “ECM’s
growing catalogue of electronica for discerning listeners.” When you think
about it, the label whose motto is “the Most Beautiful Sound Next to
Silence” does indeed feature music that is ripe for reconstruction. And
when Eicher did sign off on the decision to plunge his catalog into the depths
of the digital waters, he did so with the confidence that the integrity of the
music he so lovingly oversaw these last 42 years was in incredibly capable
hands with the likes of acclaimed minimalist techno acts and ECM diehards
Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer.


Now these guys could have
easily turned Re: ECM into a kitschy extension of Villalobos’ penchant
for slipping a little Arvo Part into his mixes for moving booties up in the
club. But thankfully, this two-disc compilation is nothing of the sort, as
anyone who listened to the remix albums that sprang from those aforementioned
imprints could concur that nothing good ever comes of miring a great bop
passage beneath an avalanche of four-on-the-floor mind numbing. Rather, the
project came about after the Chilean-born DJ observed the way people were
dancing to these integrations of ECM and theorized how “if one combines
the functionality of reduced electronic structures with the living textures of
ECM productions, it ignites new passions on a subliminal level.” Throwing
down the self-imposed challenge to harmonize the two disparate worlds while
keeping them in balance with one another, the producers channeled Eicher’s
sophisticated taste for refined experimentalism in jazz and classical through
the combined forces of a modular synthesizer and a live mixing board. From
there, they cherry picked through classic recordings from such ECM heavyweights
as Bennie Maupin, John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous, Christian Wallumrød, Louis
Sclavis, Paul Giger, the Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani/Paul Motian trio and the
aforementioned Arvo, spliced them up into fragments and redistributed them in a
finely hued hum of electric and acoustic fields of sound that have more to do
with tone and frequency than rhythm and melody. The end result is a stellar
exercise in the mathematics of sound structure that wonderfully oscillates
between the atmosphere of the original source material and the subliminal
impulses constructed by the improvised recalculations of these selections by
Villalobos and Loderbauer.  And in their
capable hands, Re: ECM is one of the most visionary fusions of IDM and
jazz to go down yet, the successful result of two painstaking years of labor
and love from two men who know this music inside out. 


Just do yourself a favor if you
choose to pick this collection up: look into the great LPs from which this
project has derived. ECM is the last word in the purity of the jazz experience
in 2011. And whether you are looking to Re: ECM for a different
perspective on some of your favorite compositions or as an introductory primer
to utilize as a jumping off point, you can never go wrong digging deeper into
the vaults of this extraordinary world of sound Manfred Eicher has brought
forth to the world.



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