R.I.P. Pete Namlook : 1960-2012
An awful lost for has wrecked the electronic music community today…
Pete Namlook has passed away. While working today morning, as usual, I was listening to ambient music as I always do each day of my life. I was listening to a promo CD given to me by Peter himself and called « Music for babies » as I ordered a FAX album just 10 days ago and was chating with the German composer just on november the 1st. We agreed to make a quick interview for this blog as he seemed very busy.
I’m listening to track « Mermaids And Angels » from Music for babies, I log in to resident advisor and suddenly see :
« RIP Pete Namlook »…
I couldn’t beleive it.
He was 51 years old.
To me Namlook is one of the best composers of ambient music with the likes of Biosphere, Alex Patterson, Tetsu Inoue, and Brian Eno. In a league of his own, he was also a man that never resented his musical roots and his deep musical idiosyncracies even though ambient is not as trendy as it was in the mid nineties.
We cannot speak about Peter without talking about FAX +49-69/450464, his record label. Pete “Namlook” Kuhlmann was in a whole different continent. A dizzyingly prolific composer who steadily built up an entire industry around his Frankfurt-based Fax label, Namlook’s name was inextricably linked with the post-rave resurgence of ambient music, and many of his solo and collaborative recordings with the likes of Mixmaster Morris, Tetsu Inoue, Klaus Schulze, Bill Laswell, Richie Hawtin, Geir Jenssen, Dr. Atmo, Burhan Ocal, Atom Heart, Jonah Sharp, Charles Uzzell-Edwards, and David Moufang, among many others, number among the most lauded and influential in ambient. Fax helped give shape to ambient’s new school by allowing the artists to freely experiment while making a living from their music. (Fax’s label structure confers the majority of its profits to its artists.) Countless of Fax releases, particularly those dating from 1993 and 1994, are considered classics of contemporary electronic ambient, and while some say the label has suffered a certain degree of repetition in recent years, Fax will always remain one of the most important and influential German electronic music labels of all time.
I didn’t know Peter Kuhlmann. I only exchanged a few e-mails with him.
Yet when my grand-mother died I was listening to Ambient otaku.
When my first girlfriend left me I was listening to Air volume 1 and the female voice to “Je suis triste et seul” (I am sad and lonely) which formed one of the most evocative displays of ambient music ever recorded, and is arguably Namlook’s solo masterpiece. Air 1 is a set of gusty ambience with the appropriately titled tracks “Wind” and “Breeze,” plus a series of impressionistic female French vocal samples placed over brooding space music.
Pete has been in my bedroom many times.
Yet I never met him but felt extremely close to his music and his artistic endeavors as he was one of those rare guys who never felt compelled to switch to dubstep, trance or minimal just for the sake of being trendy. Who’s gonna carry the torch now ? I doubt anyone can match the quality of the releases on FAX not to mention his own productions and the physical CD’s he has put on the market in a day and age of souless MP3s. He was one of the last soldiers of quality electronic music and to me, and many ambient connoisseurs, FAX will always be remembered as the ambient label par excellence.
Namlook’s legacy is huge. He leaves us 230 albums, tons of collaborations, and many artists have been groomed & nurtured by him. His lost is huge. I fear he cannot be replaced and he will be incredibly missed.
As I write this and feel incredibly sad, I stumbled at random on a website and read this quote :
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
— Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), a Scottish poet
A collaboration with Richie Hawtin in 1994 : A million miles to Earth :
P.S. : Thanks for the memories ”Kool-man”..I’ve shared mine, what’s yours ?