Five Classic ECM Titles in High Res

John Kelman By

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That said, having been along the massive Molde fjord where Rypdal continues to live to this day, and hearing his heavily overdriven, whammy bar-infused and delay/reverb-drenched guitar work that flows through the opening "Per Ulv..."it's just hard not to connect the two. This is, indeed, music of the fjords, and when Waves' more scripted and more propulsive "Per Ulv" gives way to the eight-minute "Karusell"—initially a pensive duo for Palle Mikkelborg's trumpet and an uncredited voice wailing plaintively in the background but gradually building, albeit at a glacial pace, with the addition of Rypdal's clean-toned guitar, Sveinung Hovensjø's volume pedal-driven electric bass and drummer Jon Christensen's ever-perfect textural injections—and it's even harder not to conjure images of 600 metre cliffs and 600 metres of icy cold mountain water.

There are strange things on Waves, too. The oompa-ing "Stenskoven" manages to march along with Rypdal's quirky melody, leading to a Mikkelborg-played tac piano solo. The title track, on the other hand, continues Rypdal's fascination with layering multiple rubato lines over percussion-driven pulses, in this case Christensen's definitive cymbal work, as the spaces begin to fill with Hovensjø's massive bass and Rypdal's added synth washes. "The Dain Curse" is the Norwegian equivalent of funk...loose, sloppy in all the best ways and, most importantly, completely unpredictable...with Hovensjø's bass, Mikkelborg's horn and Rypdal's guitar intertwining in a free-for-all just barely anchored by the particularly animated Christensen.

Waves is rarely mentioned amongst fan favourites and, looking back at it nearly 40 years later, it seems more than likely the only reason is because of the particularly career-defining albums that surround it. Waves isn't exactly a game-changer for Rypdal; instead, it's more an evolutionary record than a revolutionary one. Still, that doesn't mean, with a group this good and writing so strong, that Waves isn't anything but a stone-cold classic in its own right.

And so, from the rainforest-evoking solo/duo work of Dança das Cabeças and sometimes fiery, sometimes celestial trio work on Timeless, to the spare yet freewheeling sound of Peacock's quartet on Voice from the Past —Paradigm, the icy, electric colors of Waves and the surprisingly big sound of Wheeler's quintet on Deer Wan, these are five albums that not only warrant reissue on the merits of the music—surely the most important criterion—but on the basis of the albums' upgraded sonic qualities at 24-bit/192KHz. It's also an encouraging sign that ECM includes a PDF file with the CD booklet, along with high resolution downloads—a habit that, sadly, has not been picked up by everyone in the digital high res domain yet but, given ECM's attention to design and packaging as well as sound, it's no surprise that the label has done so.

Between the upgraded sound, the relentlessly impressive music and each album's significance in the history of ECM Records, all five records are unequivocally worthy of Rediscovery...and for those of you familiar with any/all of these exceptional recordings, hopefully you'll agree and take a few moments to add your thoughts to the DISQUS comments section at the end of the article.

Tracks & Personnel


Tracks: Lungs; Love Song; Ralph's Piano Waltz; Red and Orange; Remembering; Timeless.

Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Jan Hammer: organ, synthesizer, piano; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Deer Wan

Tracks: Peace for Five; 3/4 in the Afternoon; Sumother Song; Deer Wan.

Personnel: Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jan Garbarek: tenor and soprano saxophones; John Abercrombie: electric guitar, electric mandolin; Dave Holland: double bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Ralph Towner: 12-string guitar (2).

Voice from the Past —Paradigm

Tracks: Voice from the Past; Legends; Moor; Allegory; Paradigm; Ode for Tomten.

Personnel: Gary Peacock: bass; Jan Garbarek: tenor and soprano saxophones; Tomasz Stańko: trumpet; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Dança das Cabeças

Tracks: Medley #1: Quarto Mundo #1, Dança das Cabeças, Aguas Luminosas, Celebreção de Núpcias, Porta Encandata, Quarto Mundo #2; Medley #2: Tango, Bambuzal, Fé Cem Faca Amolada, Dança Solitária.

Personnel: Egberto Gismonti: eight-string guitar, piano, wood flute, voice. Nana Vasconcelos: percussion, berimbau, corpo, voice.


Tracks: Per Ulv; Karusell; Stenskoven; Waves; The Dane Curse; Charisma.

Personnel: Terje Rypdal: electric guitar, RMI Keyboard Computer; ARP synthesizer. Palle Mikkelborg: trumpet, flugelhorn, RMI, tac piano, ring modulator; Sveinung Hovensjø; Jon Christensen: drums, percussion.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you know this record, and if so, how do you feel about it?

[Note: You can read the genesis of this Rediscovery column here.]
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