The pair have a double album in the works that draws exclusively from the German label's back catalog.
Described by one magazine as "the most beautiful sound next to silence," ECM has been at the vanguard of contemporary jazz and classical music for nearly half a century. Villalobos and Loderbauer are among the many electronic artists who consider the label an essential influence. "Immersing oneself in the productions of ECM, one learns a lot about the optimum sound experience," they say. "We too have the paramount rule of making no compromises where sound is concerned."
The upcoming release shows Villalobos and Loderbauer channeling their love of ECM into a batch of new productions. All of the 17 tracks use ECM's catalog as source material, drawing from pieces by Arvo Pärt, Christian Wallumrød, Miroslav Vitous and Louis Sclavis among others. The result carries the organic feel of the originals, while also bearing the distinct mark of two electronic artists at work.
Re: ECM is by no means the first time Villalobos worked with this kind of material–ECM productions have long been fodder for his DJ sets. "It started with Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa and went on with music of Alexander Knaifel and others," he says. "If one combines the functionality of reduced electronic structures with the living textures of ECM productions, it ignites new passions on a subliminal level... The most important thing is to harmonize these two worlds, without them aspiring to mutually deactivate each other, to keep both–the organic and the electronic–in balance."
Talking recently with Resident Advisor, Loderbauer spoke more about the process and inspiration behind Re: ECM:
How did the idea for this album come about? Did you approach ECM, or did they approach you?Re: EMC will be released with liner notes written by Villalobos and Loderbauer, with all of the original sound sources listed. The duo are currently devising a live performance for the material, which will debut sometime this summer at Berghain in Berlin.
Ricardo has been incorporating ECM records in his DJ sets for quite a while, and also mentioning in interviews that he likes to mix in “off-club” records. One day Stephan Steigleder from Universal heard him playing and had the idea to make a connection. In the end it was almost two years until we started. When ECM/Universal approached him we had just spent some time experimenting in his studio, so he asked me to join in.
How long did the project take you? When and where did you work on it?
We worked on it from August to December 2009 at Ricardo's Laika Studio, but basically it took us one day per track because we use a very large modular setup which doesn’t do the same thing after you switch it off and on. So we recorded the whole set to a stereo track and did some edits afterwards. This way of working keeps you in a nice flow–the focus stays on the whole track, you don’t get lost in details.
Explain the process behind the album a bit. Would you say the term "remix" applies to what you've done here? How much original material was added?
The balance between original material and added stuff varies from track to track. We created most of the musical additions directly out of the original material with the help of KYMA and our modular system. We always tried to squeeze as much musical content as possible out of the original material in all different ways. So in that sense it’s not the “classic” remix approach, where you underlay original material with, for example, a clubby beat to lift it into a different context. We tried to follow the direction the original led us to.
Were there any contributors other than you two?
We did not formally invite people to contribute, but if there were friends at the studio we just grabbed some random input from them (vocal samples from Cassy, some knob-twiddling from our friend Achill).
Obviously ECM's catalogue is quite varied, touching on different strains of jazz and classical music. Was there a particular focus in what you chose to rework or did you try to encompass many different styles?
There was mainly a "technical" focus in the sense that we were looking for rather empty parts because we did not use any multitrack recordings. The style didn’t matter, we like all kinds of music anyway and the ECM catalogue is so vast, so it helped to have these technical criteria.
ECM's founder Manfred Eicher seems like a compelling figure. Was he someone you've looked up to over the years or did you come to his work only recently?
We've both been collecting ECM records for a very long time. I grew up very close to them; they had a jazz department in a local hi-fi and electronics shop where i was a frequent visitor. Ricardo bought his first ECM (Ritual by Keith Jarrett) in 1984, and followed them from then throughout the decades. So you can say we looked up to him, since there is no other label owner with such a strong influence on the musical content and the SOUND of the label.
Which ECM releases have been most inspiring to each of you?
The first ECM record i bought was Watercolors by Pat Metheny and I immediately realized something in the sound of the record that was very unique, so I kept following it over the years. As I mentioned before, Ricardo's ECM start was Jarrett's Ritual, and later he found out that it’s very inspiring to combine the ECM world (Balke, Knaifel, Pärt etc.) with the minimal club music in his DJ sets to create deep musical and emotional content.
How was working with Ricardo different from working with Tobias Freund?
It's not so different. Improvisation and catching the moment is the key element. With Tobias it’s a little bit more organized––we do multitrack recording for example, which is an exception in working with Ricardo.
01. Reblop (from Christian Wollumrød's Fabula Suite Lugano)
02. Recat (from Christian Wallumrød Ensemble's The Zoo is Far)
03. Resvete (from Alexander Knaifel's Svete Tikhiy)
04. Retimeless (from John Abercrombie's Timeless)
05. Reemergence (from Miroslav Vitous' Emergence)
06. Reblazhenstva (from Alexander Knaifel's Blazhenstva)
07. Reannounce (from Louis Sclavis' L'imperfait des Langues)
08. Recurrence (from Wolfert Brederode's Currents)
09. Requote (from Christian Wallumrød's Fabula Suite Lugano)
01. Replob (from Christian Wollumrød's Fabula Suite Lugano)
02. Reshadub (from Paul Giger's Ignis)
03. Rebird (from Paul Motian's Tati)
04. Retikhiy (from Alexander Knaifel's Svete Tikhiy)
05. Rekondakion (from Arvo Pärt's Kanon Pokajanen)
06. Rensenada (from Bennie Maupin's The Jewel in the Lotus)
07. Resole (from Alexander Knaifel's Svete Tikhiy)
08. Redetach (from Christian Wallumrød Ensemble's The Zoo is Far)
ECM will release Re: ECM on June 17th, 2011.