Opinions on FAX Records and Pete Namlook

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I don't post here much, but I'd like to know how other people feel about FAX.

I'll tell you what I think. I think the idea and the execution of FAX are brilliant. Music no longer needs to be constrained to an artist focusing on one or two "albums" worth each year, which then go through a creativity-killing process of distribution. Now artists of worth can record as much good material as they want, and we the music fan can hear it and evaluate it as we see fit. The "Sun Ra" paradigm where he made records like diary entries or like mailing postcards to friends.

And, I love much of what I hear on FAX (about 25 CDs worth so far). I think Namlook really has his paradigm for music together, and chooses great collaborators. And, I find it awesome that I can obtain so much of it through emusic.com and store it 7+ hours' worth at a time in mp3 format onto disk.

I think those who find his catalog too diffuse, not full of enough "definitive moments" are really missing the point and missing the vibe. I think the music's wonderful, mostly, great big 20-hour swathes of it are wonderful.

Scott McFarland (Scott McFarland), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 23:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It's 1995 again isn't it?

I'm *very* glad I never got into a completist thing with him -- the only FAX stuff I picked up was pretty much the few Instinct represses, and of them I've kept only Silence, Air and Compilation II. A case where I like those and need have no more. (Then again I have an insane amount of Muslimgauze stuff so go figure.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 23:17 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It's pretty amazing what some of these CD's go for on the used market. I've seen the original 2350 Broadway release and discs like Ambiant Otaku sell for upwards of $150-$175 on eBay.

I still enjoy FAX and I'm not ashamed to say it. There are certainly some real turkeys in the catalog, and the releases can be maddeningly uneven, but the classic releases have held up really well, and you have to hand it to Namlook for keeping this thing going for over 10 years. I'm glad he finally found a decent graphic designer to create the cover art, some of those early Ambient World reissues were downright ugly.


Some of my favorites:

Fires of Ork II especially the track "Sky Lounge"
Ambiant Otaku
Organic Cloud
2350 Broadway III
bits of the Silence series
"Free and Flowers" from Time^2
Jochem Paap: Vrs Ambnt Pcs

jeffery (jeffery), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 02:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I've listened to about 25 of them in the last month or so. I recommend Dreamfish, Dreamfish 2, Polytime, Outland 1, and Alien Comminity 1. Also I like "Visitation" a lot by Jonah Sharp and Bill Laswell, though it's not technically FAX (it's on Subharmonic). That one is a very deranged sci-fi-landscape, highly reminiscent of Sun Ra's better atmopspheric works (like "Atlantis").

Scott McFarland (Scott McFarland), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 19:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

ned is right about "air ii" = crucial. "dreamfish" is cool, too.

didn't FAX release "octopus" (the charles edwards uzzell eight-sequencer thing)?? i remember hearing bits of it in 95 and thinking "this is really great" but i can hardly find any information on it on the internet right now.

sort of like a proto-black dice in their current incarnation, but softer and driftier.

vahid (vahid), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 19:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

search: Oskar Sala's My Fascinating Instrument

milton parker (Jon L), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 20:17 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Octopus and Octopus 3 are available over on emusic. So I'll check them out, thanks. Not the Sala record unfortunately.

At least some minimal info on Octopus and all the FAX releases is up at www.2350.org .

Scott McFarland (Scott McFarland), Wednesday, 16 March 2005 20:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I've been listening to Octopus and Octopus 3 for a couple of days now and - this is truly good music. Blissed while full of momentum. Thanks for the recommendation!

Scott McFarland (Scott McFarland), Friday, 18 March 2005 20:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i had a mad FAX year in 94. got 40+ discs before i realised it was getting scary (the search for one of those seasons discs was taking over my life .- Winter i think !).

haven't listened to any in ages .. but i do recall dreamfish 1~+2 being faves, and the stuff with atom heart .. and i like the one with jonas sharp was kinda cool .. but one that i really enjoyed was Bedroom by Daniel Pemberton .. who now soundtracks loads of Channel4 programms ..

i never really like the charles s-e stuff .. too environmental ..

weirdly - out of the blue i received email from mixmaster morris yesterday ..

may be its time to dust the discs down ..

mark e (mark e), Friday, 18 March 2005 23:42 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

im not sure fax has dated that well. i like the 4voice 12s though, its very 94!

charltonlido (gareth), Saturday, 19 March 2005 12:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i'd go with this .. but damn in 94 it sounded just right ..

mark e (mark e), Saturday, 19 March 2005 23:36 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

Outland (Namlook/Laswell) in 2009 sounds brilliant.
i would love to have a proper stereo set up and listen to one of the new 5.1 releases, anyone here had such a pleasure ?
also, seems that his releases no longer get distributed to shops and its all available direct from pete himself, or, is that just because my local town no longer has any decent record shops ?

mark e, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 21:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

i am inheriting a collection of these, maybe a full collection, under very tragic circumstances. not particularly looking forward to that, but honored I've been asked to have it.

akm, Sunday, 3 October 2010 00:55 (eight years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

So Peter Kuhlmann's sad demise has inspired me to explore the FAX discography in more detail. And bloody hell the Hawtin / Namlook collab is the dogs B's, specifically 'From Within I'. Was familiar with a couple of tracks already but the whole thing is decent.

What are parts 2 & 3 like in that series and are there any other Fax no brainers I should be checking out? This thread seems a little underdeveloped given the size of the discography (although I realise it can be pretty hit and miss).

millmeister, Saturday, 16 February 2013 18:22 (six years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

10 years on from my year of FAX addiction, and i have decided to add all the discs to the digital archive.

having just upgraded my speakers, its great to have walls rumbling to these sounds again.

suits the end of world weather thats going on outside.

mark e, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:32 (five years ago) Permalink

Interviewed Move D last year, we got talking about Pete Namlook/FAX...he started crying. Very touching moment.

the Shearer of simulated snowsex etc. (Dwight Yorke), Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:46 (five years ago) Permalink

oh my ...

mark e, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:52 (five years ago) Permalink

one of my very first email exchanges way way back in the days before google/internet explorer was actually with pete ..

i think i even printed them out (exciting times to get words back from a music maker !) and still have them somewhere.

mark e, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:53 (five years ago) Permalink

hang on .. not 10.

doh.

20.

fuck i am old.

mark e, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:54 (five years ago) Permalink

and the ones i have heard tonight still sound amazing.

beyond 'dated' now as mentioned upthread.

mark e, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 19:56 (five years ago) Permalink

Man, I'm still bummed out I sold the first Shades of Orion album ten years ago, when I was going through an anti-ambient phase. I'm still hoping that someday I'll find a copy for less than a ridiculous price.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 5 February 2014 22:20 (five years ago) Permalink

i only have SOO2 tuomas, sorry.

never seen a copy of #1, in its original nor AW reissue form ..

mark e, Thursday, 6 February 2014 10:22 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm not surprised, it seems that the Namlook + Inoue collabs and the Inoue solo albums are among the most valued of early Fax. They reissued some of the Inoue records (Zenith, Electro Harmonix, Eulengasse, Ambiant Otaku) a couple of years ago, but not Shades of Orion, nor Organic Cloud. And since it seems Fax has folded with Namlook's demise, there are no new reissues coming, and those Ambient World re-releases have become quite pricey too.

I wonder what's the situation now with Fax's back catalogue now? If anyone could continue running Fax even as a strict reissue label, it'd be a huge service to fans. Seems like they were on their way of reissuing most of the classic stuff via AW before Namlook died.

Tuomas, Thursday, 6 February 2014 12:08 (five years ago) Permalink

figuring out what to do with the catalogue must be a seriously complicated issued.
i mean even his web domain from which he ran the label from has lapsed, which is very sad, as it had a good record of what was available.
i would suspect he still had racks and racks of unsold stock, so surely the family will want some way to help fans get access to them (must have been part of the probate service figuring out the value ?)
luckily i have a few of the original namlook/inoue collaborations (original press of ambiant otaku is one of my faves !).
and and thanks for reminding me, organic cloud was always top of my buy upon sight discs, and i never did succeed on that score.

mark e, Thursday, 6 February 2014 13:21 (five years ago) Permalink

i have that shades of orion somewhere. if i can find it i'll send a rip yr way.

stirmonster, Thursday, 6 February 2014 13:36 (five years ago) Permalink

that would be much appreciated. ta.

mark e, Thursday, 6 February 2014 13:44 (five years ago) Permalink

long forgotten archive dig :

http://s.pixogs.com/image/R-150-123354-1289397681.jpeg

pre-FAX kuhlmann material.

time to add to the digital archive.

have no memory of what this is like.

suspect its somewhat new age (fingers x'd !)

mark e, Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:43 (five years ago) Permalink

ooops.

http://s.pixogs.com/image/R-150-123354-1289397681.jpeg

mark e, Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:44 (five years ago) Permalink

4 days on and i cannot listen to anything else but FAX.

ear candy perfection

mark e, Sunday, 9 February 2014 17:15 (five years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

So, I've been checking out some later day FAX albums, and I came across this artist called Gate Zero, who released 3 albums for the label (in 2005, 2006, 2011), and they're all prety dope, especially the first one. They're kinda atypical for FAX, the tracks are mostly just 5 or 6 minutes long, and there's a heavier emphasis on the beats, which are more minimal techno/IDM than ambient... But the slow, pretty synth drones Namlook loved are alsp there, so it still kinda fits FAX. Anyway, I'd totally recommend these, and since they're not by a "name" FAX artist, you can still get them for relatively cheap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWooUGOCFws

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVaZtxoMwjk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luP9TXDZGeM

Tuomas, Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:31 (four years ago) Permalink

Also, the covers for the first two albums are among the prettiest in the FAX catalogue:

http://www.israbox.com/uploads/posts/2011-02/1296888154_500.jpg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xoyq1zR1L.jpg

The third one is... something else:

http://www.gatezero-music.de/images/ps08124.jpg

Tuomas, Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:37 (four years ago) Permalink

you see, i have no love for the later era artwork ..

sorry.

give me the black outer, and then circle/triangle art anyday.

mark e, Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:40 (four years ago) Permalink

I dunno, the original design concept was iconic, obviously, but some of the latter albums were still able to do some cool things with the circle motif + modern computer graphics. Like this one:

http://www.synthema.ru/uploads/posts/2011-05/1305131881_1.jpg

I think that's a very neat way of summarizing the album's theme in a simple image.

Tuomas, Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:45 (four years ago) Permalink

the inner goth in me still prefers the black groove of the originals ..

(however, i get what you are on about .. )

mark e, Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:50 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I was listening to Tetsu Inoue's Inland (another great late-period FAX album) from 2007, and was wondering why I haven't heard about any newer releases from him... But after a quick googling, it turns out that record was the last one he's released, and since that he's totally disappeared, with no one (at least outside Japan) being able to track him down. There's some info here, but it's scarce.

I hope everything is fine with him and he's just taking care of family or something (as suggested by one comment on the site I linked to), it'd be terribly sad if something bad's happened to him.

Tuomas, Monday, 13 October 2014 18:53 (four years ago) Permalink

I mean, the stuff he released on FAX, both solo and collabs, is pretty much my favourite ambient music of all time, it'd be awful if both he and Namlook had passed away before their time... So hopefully he's okay, and just taking it easy somewhere.

Tuomas, Monday, 13 October 2014 20:30 (four years ago) Permalink

As mentioned above, lately I've been digging into late period (mid-00s to 2012) FAX, and I thought I might write short reviews of the stuff I've listened here, if only to amuse myself and Mark E. :) TBH when Namlook, I hadn't listened to any for FAX releases for years, and while his demise was sad, I thought at that point both the label and his music were well past their prime... But it turns out there are a lot of gems among the latter day catalogue, it's just that they seemed to have been ignored because FAX hadn't been a trendy label since the 90s.

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:15 (four years ago) Permalink

Pete Namlook & Tetsu Inoue - 2350 Broadway 4 (2007)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/R-882897-1180633249_zps3fb164f4.jpeg

Before this album came out, Tetsu Inoue had left FAX years ago, and in the intervening years he'd relesed the sort glitchy, experimental digital ambient that was popular at the turn of the millennium. The records from this era that I've heard haven't really convinced me, it doesn't seem Inoue's strengths fit the glitch/click & cut approach well. Then he returned to FAX for a couple of records, and it's nice to hear his collab with Namlook sounds more like their 90s albums than what Inoue had been doing between. If you've listened to something like "Shades of Orion 2", you know what you're going to get here: glacially moving but incredibly warm and harmonious set of drones. There aren't any beats, no techno riffs or anything, just soft and slow ambience. This set really benefits from the 5.1. surround sound Namlook started to experiment with in 2006 (all his albums from that year on include both a 5.1. DTS disc and regular stereo CD), as the music makes you feel like being inside a cosmic womb. If you liked what these guys had done in the past, then this is a very fine return to form.

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:29 (four years ago) Permalink

ha !

fully suspected there would be gems, but after the gold rush of 94-96, i never found anywhere that stocked FAX.

i assumed that pete has retreated from the 'industry' and was selling his material all by himself.

( and for financial reasons, i needed to break the habit )

of course, should i ever see any cd in the racks (new or otherwise), i would now purchase without a second thought.

mark e, Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:33 (four years ago) Permalink

Most of the releases from FAX's last years can still be found for a reasonable price (between 15 and 30 euros) in places like Amazon and Discogs.com. They eventually started to print only 300 copies of each album, probably because no one except for hardcore aficionados was following the label at that point. I assume Namlook's death (and the realization than none of this stuff will be reissued by Ambient World or anyone else in the foreseeable future) raised the interest in the latter day releases, but like I said, most of it is still available for decent prices. (Sadly that doesn't apply to "2350 Broadway 4"; the Namlook/Inoue collabs are among the most popular of FAX releases, so this one's long sold out too.)

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:44 (four years ago) Permalink

Tetsu Inoue - Inland (2007)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/R-978540-1187190834_zps710fcf01.jpeg

After "2350 Broadway 4", it's not really surprising that "Inland" also sounds closer to Tetsu Inoue's 90s FAX releases like "Ambiant Otaku" than to the more experimental stuff he had made since leaving the label. This is still very much drone music, though the drones develop more than on the Namlook collab, and there are hints of melody and some well-placed snaps and crackles to be heard too. Overall the mood is quite content and blissful, I guess the title of the album could be a metaphor for home or some kind of inner peace? Like I mentioned above, apparently this was the last thing Inoue released before he completely disappeared. If it turns out to be his testament, well, it's a memorable, serene statement, though obviously I hope he'll one day return to music-making.

The original printing of "Inland" was sold out, but it was reissued by Ambient World in 2012, so this one still easy to acquire.

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 10:35 (four years ago) Permalink

Thomas P. Heckmann - The Lost Tales, Vol I, Vol II, Vol III (2008, 2013)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/R-1280054-1309378918_zpsa7132894.jpeg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/R-1382965-1309380029_zps35b0f66b.jpeg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/S03cover_zps70c272e1.jpg

Thomas P. Heckmann is the guy behind pseudonyms like Skydiver, Age, and Drax, who's released techno, trance and ambient since the early 90s. Lost Tales Vol I and II are his only albums on FAX, and they're are simply collections of his unreleased tracks that Namlook decided to release for whatever reason. They're great stuff, though! The tracks on them are generally more dancey and trancey than what FAX was putting out around this time, but that's probably because at least some of the tracks date back to the 90s. Heckmann is a bit of a gearhead and synth-collector (as evidenced by this awesome video, where he shows you his studio and the ridiculous amount of vintage gear he has there), so there's loads sci-fi synthesizer freakouts there too.

Vol III was supposed to come out on FAX too, but that didn't happen because of Namlook's death. It was eventually released by Carpe Sonum, which is kind of a continuation label for FAX, as they're mostly putting out stuff by FAX-related artists, including records like this one that were originally supposed be released by Namlook. I'm glad Vol. III finally found its way to the world, because it's probably the best of the three, with some huge intergalactic analog synths that you just gotta love. It also has a beautiful little tune dedicated to Namlook, titled "Ode to a Friend".

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 13:27 (four years ago) Permalink

you got these on cd ?

jealous.

(resistance still in tact ..)

mark e, Thursday, 23 October 2014 17:49 (four years ago) Permalink

and while i said i did not like the nu-era cover styles, i was wrong.
these are great.
still not sure re the white covers though.

mark e, Thursday, 23 October 2014 17:50 (four years ago) Permalink

There was a period at the turn of the millennium when, after discarding the classic circle motif, the FAX releases had a pretty awful graphics, like this:

http://s.pixogs.com/image/R-51535-1289210308.jpeg

But at some point they got a new designer called Andre Ruello, who I thought had a good sense of integrating the strong graphic profile of FAX's past into some cool new designs. Besides the Gate Zero covers I already posted, these are my favourite covers by him:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_JkhjwI7_bKs/TKd-FC7EpUI/AAAAAAAAB18/rCHfIsYN_24/s1600/4394974248_a7fec034a6.jpg.jpeg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51z4l1PgD8L.jpg

Tuomas, Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:50 (four years ago) Permalink

re air : ouch !

re pearl ii : yes

saw an anthony rother cd in the bins a few months back and let it go ..

i knew i had heard his name from somewhere ..

ahhhh ..

(not this, but a full on electroclash release)

mark e, Thursday, 23 October 2014 18:57 (four years ago) Permalink

Namlook & Spyra - Virtual Vices V (2006)

http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/500/81726055/Virtual+Vices+V+Folder.jpg

This one deviates quite a lot from the FAX norm in that it has loads of "real" instruments played by Namlook and Wolfram Spyra, there are even electric guitar solos! As a result the album often tends to sound more like fusion jazz or instrumental rock than ambient/techno... And I like fusion jazz in general, but the truth is that Namlook and Spyra aren't virtuosic enough as instrumentalists for their solos to impress me, and the sound on this album is too mannered and safe in general for this kind organic-electronic hybrid to go beyond what others have done better since the 1970s. This is not a bad album but it doesn't stand out in any way, so I couldn't be arsed to check out the other entries in the Virtual Vices series (there are 6 in total). The surround sound wasn't used particularly well on the record either, there isn't much of a difference between listening to it in 5.1. and in stereo.

Tuomas, Friday, 24 October 2014 11:17 (four years ago) Permalink

Pete Namlook - Music for Urban Meditation I, II, III, IV (2004, 2007, 2009, 2012)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/41W3UA8UbjL_zps9452facb.jpghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/41W3UA8UbjL_zps9452facb.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/51zyE2BikEL_zps963021e9.jpghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/1334670477_music-for-urban-meditation-iv_zps6704b5d5.jpg

In his final years Namlook had two rolling solo album series, Pearl and Music for Urban Meditation. The latter one is recommended for dedicated ambient listeners only. There's no beats or melodies, and even the sweet cosmic synth sounds Namlook was best known are mostly absent. What you've got is all-encompassing, glacially moving drones, and that's it, pretty much. This kind of music is meant to envelop your full field of hearing, so playing the surround disc (the first album in the series is a regular stereo CD, but the other three include a 5.1 disc with it) works really well here. The title is a bit misleading, or maybe ironic, as this is not the sort of new age ambient you could use for meditating. (Unless Namlook meant the title to be read as "meditating on something"; in this case, the city.) As the track titles suggest, this is the music of cityscapes, and it can get pretty gloomy and harsh, even oppressing, though there's beauty there too. It's kinda hard to try to judge or analyze music like this, it's such a monolith: either it works for you, or it doesn't. To me it does, but it certainly isn't Sunday afternoon comfort music like many other Namlook ambient albums, you have to be in adventurous mood to put these records on.

Tuomas, Monday, 27 October 2014 12:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Sorry, I posted one image twice there, it was meant to be this:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v655/lixnixn/419bn-3qjCL_zpsfc835da6.jpg

Tuomas, Monday, 27 October 2014 12:40 (four years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

how bloody brilliant is this ..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwWETY5Vr2M

mark e, Saturday, 10 January 2015 22:28 (four years ago) Permalink

sorry, no idea re 5.1 set ups.
i am just getting the final boxset .. cos.
simple as that.

mark e, Thursday, 21 April 2016 21:41 (three years ago) Permalink

Yeah, it's a no-brainer.

I wonder what's next? If anything

koogs, Friday, 22 April 2016 05:15 (three years ago) Permalink

Drum and bass.

It also appears to be recorded live in parts - there's clapping on it. Processed clapping but definitely applause and someone saying thank you.

koogs, Monday, 25 April 2016 19:36 (three years ago) Permalink

Oh, it says as much in the booklet (only vol 8). There's also an advert for the third box...

koogs, Monday, 25 April 2016 19:59 (three years ago) Permalink

indeed - recorded live.

http://www.klaus-schulze.com/disco/3991da.htm

and yeah, the d-n-b section took me by surprise as well.

mark e, Tuesday, 26 April 2016 12:50 (three years ago) Permalink

I remember reading some interview where Namlook said it was Schulze who wanted to bring the contemporary dance music sound into TDSotM, Namlook would've been fine with just some old-school synth jamming. Though Namlook himself wasn't averse to trying to follow current electronic music trends, IIRC he even made a full drum'n'bassy album in the 90s with one of his collaborators? And some of his early 00s material is trying to sorta imitate the electrocrash sound, though not very succesfully, I would say.

Tuomas, Monday, 2 May 2016 08:21 (three years ago) Permalink

Haha that's exactly how I imagine those recent collaborative recordings of Jean-Michel Jarre with various younger producers go...they come to Jarre's studio all excited how they're finally going to patch analogue synths with the master, and instead the first thing Jarre asks is: "alors, were do I pute ze dubstep wobble?".

Siegbran, Monday, 2 May 2016 09:18 (three years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

third and final boxset of DSOTM arrived this weekend.
volume 9 is sounding rather good.
glad i decided to get the full set now.

mark e, Tuesday, 31 May 2016 09:20 (three years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Reissue of Zenith (Carlos Vivanco, Tetsu Inoue) on Psychonavigation Records.

Noel Emits, Saturday, 9 July 2016 11:25 (two years ago) Permalink

Hmmm.

https://www.discogs.com/group/thread/718249

Noel Emits, Saturday, 9 July 2016 12:38 (two years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Sadly, that Zenith screwup wasn't just a solitary case, Psychonavigation Records is also planning to reissue Peter Benisch's "Waiting for Snow" against the direct wishes of the artist:

https://www.discogs.com/group/thread/725019

I guess, given the rarity of many FAX releases, it'd be inevitable some vultures would gather around its corpse, but this is still very sad. On top of that, it seems Psychonavigation hasn't paid any royalties to many of the other artists whose records they've released. So at this point I'd recommend boycotting the whole label. Since the rights of FAX albums now seem to have reverted back to the artists, hopefully we're going to see some well done and legit reissues in the future, like the Dark Side of the Moog boxes.

Of course that won't be happening Tetsu Inoue's albums anytime soon, with him still missing... It's sad that the circumstances have made it impossible for his records to be reissued legitimately, but I still wouldn't buy a bootleg that only benefit scammers like Psychonavigation and not his family (or whoever it is to whom the royalties should go).

Tuomas, Wednesday, 5 October 2016 09:48 (two years ago) Permalink

very strange

brimstead, Wednesday, 5 October 2016 20:23 (two years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

https://www.discogs.com/group/thread/728417

The whole Psychonavigation debacle just keeps getting more ridiculous, the label owner has now started a new label called "Where Ambient Lives", apparently under a false name. This is seemingly to distance the new label from the justified bad rep he's gotten from releasing albums without the artist's permission and not paying any royalties.

mickchillage about 17 hours ago

As a previous artist of Keith Reid aka Keith Downey aka John Williams etc via his Psychonavigation imprint, I can confidently state that all criticism are fair game at this stage. He doesn't pay any royalties or supply any statements, tells artists he makes no money and their CD's haven't sold, so why is he still in business after all these years? Seeing your passionate hard work end up in one of his bargain bin €1.00 sales is an absolute insult too any artist!

He gets abusive when you disagree with artwork, formats and packaging, therefore not respecting the artists vision often bullying to get his own way, referring to artists as "Muppets" in nasty threatening emails. Peter Benisch recently fell into a nasty situation with a re-release of "Waiting For Snow" and was forced to expose the situation on social media.

These are not isolated incidents, many people have messaged me privately or have spoken openly on social media about their similar experiences, so there is a solid pattern here sadly.

Lets not forget about the Re-issue of Tetsu Inoue's Zenith Collab, how did he obtain the rights when Tetsu's closest musical friends have not made contact with him for years? When asked about this, Keith has replied "Mind your own business" or "Its a private matter" so no respect for potential consumers of his product or those who are either passed away or missing ?

Kicking a dead horse it may be but if Keith was a different sort of guy with some kind of moral compass and integrity he could have redeemed his character and label but instead he chooses to continue with more ways to try and cheat consumers and artist with false identities and labels.

If you ask me he's like an ugly wart on our small and precious scene that just wont go away.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 22 November 2016 11:50 (two years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Spent the last few weeks listening to a bunch of these records, some highlights observations:

Dark Side of the Moog series is hit or miss. I find myself more interested in the bits that are more purely Klaus (or Klaus-inspired, as I gather Namlook would've been perfectly happy doing retreads of the 70s records and Schulze wanted to fold in more electro stuff).

Electro Harmonix by Tetsu Inoue and Jonah Sharp -- really nice synth textures for about an hour.

Wechselspannung I + II by Jonah Sharp and Namlook are good ones -- I gather Sharp played a ton of analog synths and Namlook chopped them up on his sampler and turned them into the rhythms. These records probably fit my vision of what I wanted FAX to be: analog squiggles and spacey textures absent dance or house dogma that often drags me uncomfortably into 1994.

To that end, I also really found myself liking the Richie Hawtin From Within records. I was expecting these to be far more dance-y than they are based on Hawtin's rep. But they're surprisingly spacey and enjoyable.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 29 December 2016 20:38 (two years ago) Permalink

I totally agree on you with all those points. The From Within albums aren't like any Hawtin solo material that I've heard, and yet (according to Namlook) he was more responsible for the synths and Namlook for the beats, not the other way around, as you'd expect.

The DSotM is really overrated within the FAX catalogue, mostly it just sounds like two guys randomly noodling with synths in Namlook's studio (which most likely is exactly how they were done) with not much rhyme or reason, and the bits with the beats (which were indeed there on Schulze's insistence, as Namlook would've been happy to just do old school space music) are dated. Some of Namlook's solo records on FAX are better at capturing the spirit of 1970s synth music than the ones he did with an actual '70s synth legend.

If you liked the Wechselspannung albums, you should check out the two Alien Community albums by Namlook and Sharp too. They're largely in the same mold, but more spacey and less electro.

Tuomas, Friday, 30 December 2016 08:55 (two years ago) Permalink

Agree as well, those mentioned were among the ones I returned to most. I'd say most of Wechselspannung is kind of redundant - just skip to part 5 (I think) for the pretty gated melody, the beats are clunky. Sharp does a similar thing in Floating Sync on Electro Harmonix. Actually I never felt Wechselspannung 2 or the Alien Communities were particularly essential. From Within is very nice, Homeward Bound in particular obvs.

These are all 'entry level' Fax but for a reason. See also Dreamfish and Silence.

Noel Emits, Friday, 30 December 2016 10:50 (two years ago) Permalink

If you want to check out a classic period FAX album where the samples and beats are treated in a more unique and interesting fashion, I'd recommend Modula Green's Shellground. The fact that it's not by any of the "name" FAX artists also means you can get a used copy for relatively cheap, but IMO it's on the same level as any of the better known albums from the golden age of 1993–1995.

Tuomas, Friday, 30 December 2016 11:53 (two years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

so, a week ago i broke 2 ribs in my back and have been housebound ever since.
the only viable soundtrack to such a situation = a lot of FAX.
so, today after months of promising myself i would do it, i tidied up my digital FAX collection making it a lot more simple to find my FAX stuff via Sonos (and realised that i had never digitised From Within 2 !).
and yeah, while they may be overrated by those that picked up all the DSoTM releases at the time, i didn't.
hence they have become a big part of this weeks needs.

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:26 (one year ago) Permalink

i found out last night that air II has aged very badly

will give dreamfish a try tonight

the late great, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:34 (one year ago) Permalink

other than a track on the Ambient Cookbook i never heard any of the AIR releases.
suspect you will think dreamfish hasn't aged well, but since i picked up Thief by Tangerine Dream last week, i have been in the mood for synth music, so its all hitting the spot for me.

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:38 (one year ago) Permalink

air has a lot of uh "ethno percussion" and didgeridoo jamz

the late great, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:45 (one year ago) Permalink

and didgeridoo jamz

ouch.

none of those on either DF releases, just lots synth washes and twinkly bleepy arpeggios

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:48 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah i seem to recall he said air (or at least air ii) was his attempt to blend ambient + world music

i have had the first dreamfish for years now but rarely break it out ... when i am in the mood for mixmaster morris i usually break out "global chillage" instead

the late great, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:51 (one year ago) Permalink

i love GC.
speaking of MMM.
he has just released a new album.
his first in quite a while :
https://www.discogs.com/The-Irresistible-Force-Kira-Kira/master/1235636

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 18:58 (one year ago) Permalink

i used to have (20 years ago, when i was in college) a reflective global chillage poster on my bedroom wall (basically a blown-up 2' x 2' version of the cover on thick cardstock)

don't recall where i got it or where it ended up :-(

the late great, Thursday, 5 October 2017 19:11 (one year ago) Permalink

its holographic coverart is very much of its time.

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 19:14 (one year ago) Permalink

'School of Fish' off the first Dreamfish is one of my favourite Fax tracks period. There's some surprisingly deep sub bass lurking in its depths. The rest of the record doesn't quite live up to that high.

millmeister, Thursday, 5 October 2017 21:33 (one year ago) Permalink

There's some surprisingly deep sub bass lurking in its depths.

indeed, as i found earlier.
i only ever listened to my FAX collection via low spec kit before today.
was lovely to experience the sound in a far more appropiate manner at last.

mark e, Thursday, 5 October 2017 22:27 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

enjoyed that.
ta for the pointer.

mark e, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 10:34 (seven months ago) Permalink

yes, good stuff

clynical repression (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 6 November 2018 10:44 (seven months ago) Permalink

Great read, thanks Willem

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 6 November 2018 19:48 (seven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

..
I had no idea re DSOTM XI !
and yet I have the boxsets.
its very JMJ-esque with a lot more beats than the rest of the collabs.
ta for the nudge Tuomas.

mark e, Friday, 7 December 2018 22:22 (six months ago) Permalink

Yeah, apparently they were gonna stop at X, but decided to do XI after all. It's pretty nice, like I said in the other thread, DSotM is not among my favourite FAX series (especially when they try to sound "contemporary" with all those d'n'b beats etc, which apparently was Schulze's idea, not Namlook's), but the final album is cool.

Tuomas, Saturday, 8 December 2018 08:29 (six months ago) Permalink

I've always felt a wave of melancholy when I think of Fax. The label passed me by during its heyday. Now Pete Namlook is dead, Tetsu Inoue appears to have vanished from the face of the early, presumably dead, the label is defunct, not just defunct but destroyed in such a way that most of the master tapes have been chucked out and no-one owns the rights any more. jeffery up the page back in 2005 points out the CDs go for high prices on the used market, and that's still the case. I'm sure you can get reissues, but just like the Vivien Meyer industry they're all vultures selling something they didn't help create.

And the music. It was the future in the late 1990s but now we live in the actual future most of it sounds very much of its time. There's a great internet ambient radio station called Sleepbot, and a fantastic podcast called Low Light Mixes - that's how I hear 90% of music - and they occasionally play tracks from Fax records, and they're good! The label's output appears to have been consistently good. It sounds very old-fashioned, even the later stuff like Inland, but because it was mostly minimal it hasn't dated all that badly. But there's still something wistful about futuristic music that wasn't really futuristic after all.

I didn't realise until recently that 2350 Broadway was an actual building. Bretton Hall, which at one time was apparently an artists' collective:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Hall_(Manhattan)

"In the early 1980s, an organization called Artists Assistance Services rented out apartments in the Bretton Hall to people in the arts, with the unusual proviso that they would have to share the use of the space with a "cultural activity" such as a karate class."

I wonder if Namlook etc benefited from this, or if it had stopped long before the 1990s. A quick google reveals that Wikipedia's source is an article in New York magazine from May 1985. "One of the things that seems most unfair about Upper West Side gentrification is that the people who paved the way for it, the musicians and artists who made it chic, are now among the ones being forced out by higher prices."

Apparently rents were really high in New York in 1985 and landlords weren't afraid to use underhand methods to drive the poorer tenants out. But that was 1985, I imagine things are a lot better now. Let's hope it doesn't happen here in Britain!

Meanwhile I am off to light the candle I use for heating in my unheated and in fact roof-less bedsit.

Ashley Pomeroy, Saturday, 8 December 2018 14:51 (six months ago) Permalink

Hi, nice post. I hope you find some warmth.

As far as I know, Tetsu is still alive and well!

Allen (etaeoe), Saturday, 8 December 2018 15:27 (six months ago) Permalink

There were a bunch of these in Flashback in Islington this afternoon. No obvious bargains though.

koogs, Saturday, 8 December 2018 16:15 (six months ago) Permalink

and they occasionally play tracks from Fax records, and they're good! The label's output appears to have been consistently good. It sounds very old-fashioned, even the later stuff like Inland, but because it was mostly minimal it hasn't dated all that badly

great post.
this to the power of xxxx.
welcome to the FAX family Ashley.
better late than never.

mark e, Saturday, 8 December 2018 19:47 (six months ago) Permalink

the label is defunct, not just defunct but destroyed in such a way that most of the master tapes have been chucked out and no-one owns the rights any more. jeffery up the page back in 2005 points out the CDs go for high prices on the used market, and that's still the case. I'm sure you can get reissues, but just like the Vivien Meyer industry they're all vultures selling something they didn't help create.

I'm sure the rights for Namlook's solo recordings are owned by his daughter, but it doesn't seem she's interested in reissuing those. And the rights of collaborations and non-Namlook albums seem to have reverted back to the other artists, who are free to reissue them as they see fit. AFAIK the only vulture who's tried to take advantage of this state of things is Keith Downey and his psychonavigation label, as discussed above. But besides that, all the other reissues (DSotM, Fires of Ork, Lorenzo Montana, Labyrinth, etc.) are either released by the artists himself, or with their permission.

The biggest problem are really the Inoue albums, as he still seems to be missing, or at least no one is able to contact him, so obviously they can't ask for his permission to reissue them either.

I didn't realise until recently that 2350 Broadway was an actual building. Bretton Hall, which at one time was apparently an artists' collective:

2350 Broadway was the address where Inoue lived in Manhattan. AFAIK all those albums were recorded there, just like the 62 Eulengasse was named after Namlook's home address at the time, where he and Inoue recorded that album.

As far as I know, Tetsu is still alive and well!

Do you have any recent knowledge of his whereabouts? Because as discussed here, his colleagues and label owners have been trying to contact him for years, with no results, so I'm sure they'd be happy for any info you can provide. (His supposed disappearance was even mentioned by Namlook in the liner notes of one of those Ambient Gardener comps, where he speculates Inoue might have died in the 2011 tsunami.)

Tuomas, Monday, 10 December 2018 18:21 (six months ago) Permalink

Has Pete's daughter said anything about the label since his death? I hadn't heard she "chucked the master tapes" -- tho it's not like third generation tapes are all that exist. These were CDs, after all, and pristine recordings would be pretty easily salvaged from existing CDs.

The Inoue records are what I've been listening to these last few weeks -- Electro Harmonix, Shades of Orion 1/2/3, Organic Cloud, Ambiant Otaku, 2350 Broadway I & II, Second Nature. I prefer my FAX when it's super spacey. Would be great if he's okay but I haven't heard anything other than the tsunami rumors either.

Also, this is a great thread (seemingly?) started by Namlook himself on Discogs a few years before he died trying to get the pulse of fans as to what should come next. He explains in some depth what had changed business-wise since the label's heyday and perhaps why things had petered out: https://www.discogs.com/group/thread/629833

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 11 December 2018 15:07 (six months ago) Permalink

I had the impression that MMM didn't know about the Dreamfish reissue until well after it was released so I don't know what that suggests about its status.

The First (Noel Emits), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 16:27 (six months ago) Permalink

which Dreamfish reissue, the rising high edition ?
or has it been reissued since that version ?

mark e, Tuesday, 11 December 2018 16:40 (six months ago) Permalink

No I meant the one that's on Bandcamp but actually I see it originally came out on that label in 2001.

The First (Noel Emits), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 16:45 (six months ago) Permalink

ahh .. was just wondering.
I once saw DF 1, the original FAX cd in Vigin in Leeds and left it cos I had the RH edition.
needless to say, I have never seen it out in the wild since.

mark e, Tuesday, 11 December 2018 17:30 (six months ago) Permalink

I didn't know about the new 2001/2016 reissue of Dreamfish, but since it has the cover art of the '90s Rising High edition, I assume Rising High must've licensed it to that label (Avatar Records), unless they're violating RH's copyright really blatantly? And the original RH edition of Dreamfish certainly was a legit release, didn't RH license it from FAX because Morris was signed to them? (Just like Apollo licensed Fires of Ork, because they were Biosphere's label at the time.)

But yeah, depending on what kind of deal Avatar Records has with RH, it's certainly possible MMM wasn't informed of the Bandcamp release. Though of course that doesn't mean it's a bootleg like those Psychonavigation reissues; they should've been courteous enough to get his approval, but it's perfectly possible they're license contract doesn't necessitate that.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 11 December 2018 23:15 (six months ago) Permalink

Has Pete's daughter said anything about the label since his death? I hadn't heard she "chucked the master tapes" -- tho it's not like third generation tapes are all that exist. These were CDs, after all, and pristine recordings would be pretty easily salvaged from existing CDs.

No, as far as I know Fabia Kuhlmann hasn't given any statements regarding the label, reissues, or the master tapes. When I said she doesn't seem to be interested in any sort of reissue project, I was merely speculating based on the fact that legit reissues of several FAX collab projects and non-Namlook albums have come out in the last couple of years, but there's been no reissues of Namlook solo records, not even on Bandcamp or anything. I can sort of understand it tho, FAX was (by design) a label with a small, cultish following, and most of the reissues have been of projects with artists (such as Klaus Schulze or Biosphere) who have a larger output and fandom outside FAX, so they have better sales prospects too.

And you're right about the master tape issue, so unless someone wants to remaster them (which Namlook was against, he felt FAX albums sound just fine as they are, and I agree), it shouldn't be a problem using the CDs as a master. Apparently this was exactly what was done with those bootlegs on Psychonavigation Records.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 12 December 2018 09:55 (six months ago) Permalink

Circling back the past few days to the From Within records, which are available on Hawtin's Soundcloud page. I love how spacey these are ... at times they feel a little like the Orb at their least tongue-in-cheek.

Also, was listening to the second disc of 2350 Broadway I on the drive in to visit a client today ... you can really hear what Uwe Schmidt and Bill Laswell were saying in that Red Bull piece about how Namlook refused to do much in the way of editing or re-recording. There are literally a few points on there were Namlook or Inoue just drop some sound into the mix that distorts horribly and rings forever with that 25-second reverb they're using -- which almost certainly suggests that these records were really just long jams.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 17 December 2018 17:16 (six months ago) Permalink

Yeah, there's an interview with Move D where he says that he used to go Namlook's house in the countryside, where they did some jamming for a weekend, and Namlook then released the results as the next Move D/Namlook album or two. He also felt they should've rerecorded and edited some of the material, but I guess then we wouldn't have gotten 26 duo albums by the pair. :)

I guess Namlook's background as a jazz guitarist made him feel that releasing the results of jam sessions as such captured something that would've been diminished by further tinkering? It's certainly an uncommon approach in post-80s electronic music, but IMO it works well on some of the long-form, drifting mood pieces, such as on Shades of Orion 2 and 3, and on the best of the Move D/Namlook and Inoue/Namlook material. OTOH, Dark Side of the Moog and some of Namlook's solo albums show that it can also result in fairly boring noodling.

Tuomas, Monday, 17 December 2018 17:44 (six months ago) Permalink

Also, I seem to recall a MMM interview from back in the day, where he says the first Dreamfish album was done in a day?

Tuomas, Monday, 17 December 2018 17:46 (six months ago) Permalink

five months pass...

It's certainly an uncommon approach in post-80s electronic music, but IMO it works well on some of the long-form, drifting mood pieces, such as on Shades of Orion 2 and 3, and on the best of the Move D/Namlook and Inoue/Namlook material.

I was revisiting to Move D/Namlook's Space & Time because of the ambient poll, and yeah, it definitely works here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UPurIZ3FHk

Tuomas, Friday, 7 June 2019 13:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.