ECM Records
Voice of the avantgarde


German record label ECM has been a seminal publishing platform for challenging musicians over the past three decades.

ECM, an acronym that stands for "Edition of Contemporary Music", is the intellectual baby of Manfred Eicher (born in 1943), who formed the label in Munich way back in 1969. Even today, Eicher is almost solely responsible for the output of ECM Records, be it the concept, the music or the corporate design. In the early days, the ECM-catalogue comprised vinyl records and audiocassettes (in 1985, the first ECM-compact discs were released), today ECM also stands for spoken word events, books, films and videos. To date, more than 700 productions have been released on ECM.

Most of the recordings are produced by Manfred Eicher himself whilst sonic aesthete Jan-Erik Kongshaug handles recording and mixing duties in his Oslo-based Rainbow Studios. The stylistic bandwidth of ECM is of great variety, and spans from Jazz, Classical and World Music to Trip Hop and Ambient.

Each recording is regarded as a closed concept in sound and artwork, and Eicher perfectly well knows how to mix and regroup the musicians on his label, hence creating different ensembles and stylistic mixes. This diversity in musical output led to sublabels like ECM's own "New Series" for classical productions and distribution contracts with the labels "WATT" (Carla Bley, Michael Mantler and Steve Swallow, including "XtraWATT"), "CARMO" (releasing early and non-ECM-recordings of Latin American instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti) and "JAPO" (releasing early albums of Stephan Micus). One of the latest highlights in ECM's history is the distribution deal with Norwegian label Rune Grammofon.
> The next sound to silence

Manfred Eicher, head of ECM Records

= Voice of the avantgarde
> The next sound to silence
> Rolf Becker's Top 20 ECM titles
> A guideline to ECM