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Various Artists: Selected Signs III-VIII

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Some albums, especially many of those issued by the venerable German label ECM, unfold like movie soundtracks. The magnificent six-CD set Selected Signs III-VIII unfurls like an epic trilogy without the moving pictures. With gentle shifts in genre and a stunning narrative arc, the collection offers a whole new dimension of label founder Manfred Eicher’s vision, and provides a glimpse into the limitless possibilities of what can be done with the music he has long championed.

The two previous iterations of Selected Signs were more or less samplers of the ECM catalog. Selected Signs III-VIII consists of music carefully curated for the recent exhibition ECM-A Cultural Archaeology at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, which showcased the label’s music, graphic art and photography. That an exhibit such as that could exist is a testament to Eicher’s vision. His records look, feel and sound as though they are part of some greater whole, and indeed they are. This is made crystal clear throughout these six CDs.

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