Based in the Washington D.C. area since its founding in 1984, Cuneiform Records is widely recognized as an international force in the world of avant-garde and truly progressive, cutting-edge music. This independent record label has charted an adventurous course, avoiding music’s oft-travelled mainstream and resisting confinement within any single musical genre. Instead, Cuneiform has focused on the nascent edges of a variety of genres. It is especially renown for championing music that transcends traditional, rigidly-defined 20th Century musical styles, championing pioneering composers and genre-defying music that organically fused elements from various styles to form vibrant new hybrids. Repeatedly, Cuneiform has released music that’s either influenced or served as precursors to modern music’s most intriguing new forms. For instance, much of the radical, genre-defiant music that Cuneiform released in the 1980s and 1990s to the confoundment of rock, jazz and classical music critics alike – music such as Curlew’s foot-tapping, genre-morphing jazz/pop/blues/rock, and Present and Univers Zero’s startling Chamber Rock – would in later years be recognized as precursors (forming the metamorphic bedrock) for post-jazz and post-classical genre-defying hybrids that now define 21st century music.
"Cuneiform Records has a long history of releasing genre-destroying artworks from some of the most iconoclastic musicians on the planet.... one of the most challenging and rewarding catalogs of music ever assembled." – John Swenson / Stereophile
Currently issuing 15 albums/year, Cuneiform – in 2014, its 30th year – features about 300 titles in its catalogue. These releases cover a broad stylistic range, from experimental rock to avant-progressive, avant-jazz and jazz improvisation, electronic/ambient/noise, and much much more. From classical minimalism to chamber rock, Rock in Opposition to Weird Americana, jazz/pop to jazztronica, Cuneiform has explored a wide world of cutting edge music and especially, music beyond genre and genres-yet-to-be-defined. The common denominator of all releases on this uncommon, artist-friendly label is the singularity and consistent high-quality of its artists. Cuneiform's innovative composers and improvisors create music true to their unique visions and their unfettered visions often defy, reshape, and transcend prior genre boundaries, transforming the musical landscape of jazz, or rock, or New Music/contemporary classical for generations to come.
"Cuneiform Records continues to release some of the most daring and visionary progressive jazz recordings of our time." – Chris Cooke / KIOS FM
Cuneiform releases and internationally promotes and distributes recordings by some of the best avant garde musicians from around the world. Its artists include numerous young, rising-star rock (Janel & Anthony, Upsilon Acrux, Zevious, Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores), jazz ensembles (Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown, John Hollenbeck's The Claudia Quintet, Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paulo Underground, Ellen Andrea Wang’s Pixel, & many more) as well as avant-garde icons (Wadada Leo Smith, Soft Machine, John Surman, Richard Pinhas/Heldon & Merzbow, Robert Wyatt, David Borden/Mother Mallard Portable Masterpiece Company, Steve Lacy & Roswell Rudd). Cuneiform's catalogue contains the primary oeuvre - often dozens of recordings spanning thirty years to the present day - by such musical mavericks as Daniel Denis/Univers Zero and Present; Richard Pinhas/Heldon; Curlew; David Borden/Mother Mallard, and The Microscopic Septet. While primarily releasing original music by composers/improvisors, Cuneiform also has a few repertory groups devoted to creative arrangements of Contemporary Masters such as Steve Lacy, John Mclaughlin, and Frank Zappa. While primarily releasing new material, it also issues previously unreleased and historically and musical significant archival material – such as Robert Wyatt’s long-lost tapes from ‘68, made after his Soft Machine/Jimi Hendrix Experience USA Tour – and reissues significant out-of-print material. Cuneiform’s archival releases of Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath and other British artists sparked a renaissance of interest in the band and British jazz, while its reissues of various artists’ back catalogues sparked a resurgence of interest in their work and oftentimes, a new artistic life, the group reforming to resume recording. Whether recordings of new musical works or long-hidden gems, Cuneiform releases music that will surprise, inspire, provoke and delight young and old audiences alike.
The evocative, genre-bending musics internationally released, distributed and promoted by Cuneiform are some of the most forward-looking, progressive jazz, rock, and classical works on the 20th and 21st Century scenes. We invite you to take the time to explore our catalogue.
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