Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Autumn Collection

Greetings, pop pickers! Hope all is well in your worlds. While I wait for the latest interview to come back to me (the interviewee is checking the tape transcription because a handful of words couldn't be discerned from the recording) I thought it might be nice to talk about some of the music I've been enjoying in a big way recently....which brings us to what I call The Autumn Collection - that is some of  the more recent releases from those Autumn of Communion chaps Mick Chillage and Lee Anthony Norris. Now, as most of you will know the last album released on Fax was the stunning Autumn of Communion, a record that was somewhat bucolic but also seemed to drift off into the cosmos. A starry night in the forest, perhaps? Since then we've had Autumn of Communion 2 and most recently on Norris' own ...txt record label Autumn of Communion 3 and also 3.5. I don't know if it's my imagination but each successive collaborative release from the AOC guys seems to float further into space. Number 3 in the series is a beatless affair that charts the deeper reaches of the great black beyond and the extremely limited edition 3.5 takes one of the tracks from their third installment, Rhea, and stretches/treats/remixes it pretty much beyond recognition. One long, cosmic expanse of music, clocking in at 56 minutes. Excellent stuff!

The physical copies of both of the latest AOC records are sold out but you can find digital versions on Bandcamp here:

 Other albums I've been enjoying recently have included Lee Anthony Norris' collaboration with Porya Hatami, Every Day Feels Like a New Drug:

This is a very gentle, pastoral affair and after listening I find myself wanting to dig out my Hans-Joachim Roedelius records, which can only be a great thing.

The Angling Loser, on the other hand, is a sort of concept album, starting with Dawn and working its way through 24 hours until the music arrives at the beginning of another day. All of this paints images of reflective moments by the waters edge and it is a truly lovely effort. The deluxe version comes with a disc of remixes by Stormloop, Porya Hatami, Solipsism, plus others and much praise must also go to Colin Herrick of Time Released Sound for producing some of the most elaborate packaging you're ever likely to see for a CD. See here:

His packaging for the splendid Winter's Fire by Ashes of Piemonte (another Lee Anthony Norris collaboration, this time with Wil Bolton) was equally amazing:

Whilst I'm discussing the Ashes of Piemonte I'm just getting to grips with their second album, a double CD titled Datura Notes. Four very lengthy, lush, drone-based tracks. Dense, yet very chilled out and with plenty of musical detail along the way. A beautifully textured record. The physical releases of both of the Ashes of Piemonte albums are sold out but you can get the digital versions here:

 ...and a couple of days ago the second Ishqamatics (a collaboration between Lee Anthony Norris and Matt Hillier) CD, Spacebound popped through my letterbox on it's travels from Italy. I'm listening to it for the first time right now. Whereas their first record, Earthbound featured some rhythms (albeit subtle, inventive ones) the second installment does exactly what it says on the tin, gently drifting off through the ether to beatless destinations unknown. There are also some recurrent themes here and there, nicely connecting the two records. Basically if you like Autumn of Communion then I'd imagine you're going to go for both of these albums in a big way.

Get your copy of Earthbound here:

The physical release of Spacebound is currently sold out but no doubt it will be getting a digital release soon.

Lee Anthony Norris' ...txt is undoubtedly a real label to watch in this post-Fax ambient world and you can keep up-to-date with the releases here: keep up with the man's myriad projects on various labels here on his tumblr blog:

Here's a sneak preview of Autumn Star, from the forthcoming  Lee Anthony Norris project Echo Ark (to be released as a Nacht Plank album):

Whilst we're talking about exciting labels Carpe Sonum is releasing some absolute gems, post-Fax.

With Die Welt ist Klang, a mammoth Pete Namlook tribute box set coming soon we also have Mick Chillage's next CD Saudade to look forward to in the not-too-distant-future. Check out a sound clip here:

Moving away a little from Autumn of Communion and connected projects Carpe Sonum is also now serving up Thomas P. Heckmann's The Lost Tales Vol. III.
 Order it here:

 ...or if, like me, you live in Europe a release is imminent through Kudos Distribution. See here:

So, what next for the NMLK blog? Well, as mentioned previously there is a very exciting interview coming soon and I hope to be getting back to doing some reviews of Fax and new releases soon, even if they will probably be shorter than before. I'm playing around with making a bit of electronic music myself now, so the weekends seem to get eaten up quickly. Anyway: I'll be back again soon. In the meantime enjoy all of the great Fax and related music out there! 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Pete Namlook 1960-2012

One year on. Gone but not forgotten. The music lives on.

A very special interview will be coming soon to NMLK as a tribute to the great man.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Dr. Atmo interviewed

Q: Am I right in thinking that you were born in Iran but left in 1978? Was that as a result of political unrest? What do you remember about your early years?

A: Well, my dad brought me out of Iran three weeks before the revolution and went back, in the hope that I could go back after school and university. I was 12 and grew up with friends of his and later by a very nice but conservative family. I remember a country full of lovely people, landscape, culture and great food. It was before our country pushed to the wrong direction. I hope we can see laughing people again in this country.

Q: ...and the next stop was Frankfurt? Is that right? You ended up DJing at a club called XS. Can you describe the scene at the time and how you became a DJ and musician? It seems that there was a massive scene for techno in Germany back then?

A: I grew up in Frankfurt with very talented personalities and their styles, like Mr.Väth, Talla 2XLC, Bijan Blum, DJ Dag, Mark Spoon and many, many more. I met most of them at a young age (15-19), as I worked in a record shop. In the night, I brought them the newest records in the clubs and enjoyed their sets and started to make light (light jockey) for them. Frankfurt was full of creative people and makers and it influenced me a lot for sure, as I started to study architecture, got many jobs to design shops, offices, studios, flats AND clubs like Omen or XS. As I heard that XS want to make a chillout night and I loved downtempo music, I applied for the job and my first nights were totally packed. So they became my own “Atmo nights”.

Q: How and when did you first meet Pete Namlook? Was that at XS? Can you remember the first time you met him and how you decided to record music together?
A: I remember a guy from Boy Records came to XS with company (Pete) and he introduced us. Pete had just moved to Frankfurt and enjoyed my sets for weeks and so we got to know each other better. He told me about his music career and job as software programmer and I told him about my visions for architecture and music. He invited me to his studio and it was my second production (first with PCP). I brought lots of music and samples with me...and Silence was born.

Q: I’m really fascinated by this period when various musicians (yourself obviously included) went from playing techno to branching out and also playing and recording ambient music (this mixture is very much in evidence on the Escape double CD that you recorded with Pete). What do you think the catalysts for this were? Was there something you guys were listening to that influenced the move or was it simply a natural move to making some chilled out music?

A: I never DJ'd  as a techno dance DJ but I love that music for sure. For many artists it was very stylish to have a kind “chillout” version of their dance tracks. For me it was not a new kind of music - it had only a new name that the techno generation was totally in love with. Every rave must had a chillout room and I played in lots of these rooms for hours and hours. ;) I played older stuff like Tangerine Dream into The Orb, perhaps. Or David Sylvian or Can  into Mixmaster Morris or Aphex Twin albums. For me the point was that you can not got the future if you don't know about past. So until today my sets are always a trip from '50s...'60s to present.
Q: I once heard an interview (I think it was with The Chillage Idiots radio show) when Pete described Silence as his big breakthrough at Fax…the record that made people stop and take notice. What do you remember about recording this and the follow up, Silence II?  What was it like working in the studio with Pete? Can you remember how you worked together?
A: Well, Silence was his first real full ambient record on his own label. After a few A&R call offs, he decided to start with the own label called Fax. And even for me Silence was the first record with all my passion and with my new artist name on it. Working with Pete was great at first and for sure always with great results. We both were zodiac sign Sagittarius and that couldn't work for long time. So after Escape we decided to work separately. He came in touch with my friends Move D or Mixmaster Morris and was more interested to work with them, as he made ​​me feel very often then. So I started to work with others...

Q: Who provided the mysterious voice on those Silence records…the guy asking the questions with the really deep voice? (-:

A: To be honest, all those mysterious elements came from my music collection, especially that Silence voice.  I bought that tape in a new age meditation shop in Hamburg years before and chilled to that voice many, many times before Silence was born.
Q: On those first two Silence records and the Sad World series there are strong ethno music elements. Did you tend to get those from field recordings or did you ever bring musicians into the studio to provide the sounds?

A: Pete's place was not that big in that time and so we couldn't record live. But by the time of my collaboration with Ramin as Sad World we could record a few musicians and artists around at Ramin's dad's. It was always a great moment when you saw/heard all of those old instruments on new beats. Goosebumps were guaranteed! And it happens again and again, like last time recording for my new band, Atmo and the Lightz.

Q: Do you have any particular memories of working with Ramin on the Sad World records?

A: The biggest moment that I will never forget? His dad performed an old Persian poem on Sad World 2 and we all started to cry by the first play...

Q: You recorded three albums (The Whole Traffic, The Whole Traffic II and A Day in the Park) with Pino and Wildjamin (aka The Basalt Boys). How did you meet those guys and what do you remember about recording with them?
A: Pino is Iranian too and he enjoyed my sets in XS and asked me to listen to their stuff. Benjamin Wild (a famous producer now) and Pino had lots of stuff and I started to rearrange and edit it. At the end we decided to create all of those as new projects and Pete was very interested in all my stuff. So it all went out on Fax, for sure.

Q: Music to Films, the album you recorded with Oliver Lieb, must be one of the most interesting and sought after records in the whole Fax discography. I’d argue that as a soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi it is more powerful than Philip Glass’ music. It certainly lends a darker atmosphere to the film. How did the idea for that album come about? How did yourself and Oliver Lieb work on it? A great deal of time clearly went into making sure that all of the pieces of music sync up perfectly with the images in the film.
A: Working with Oliver Lieb was great for sure. I designed his studio in the same time that I did the studio design for Pascal Feos too. And my charge was to produce a album with them. ;)) Mixmaster Morris called the Music to Films idea a “one million dollar project” and this made Pete very jealous. I knew that a few licensing requests were not answered for this album. Sad but ...

Q: Do you have a favourite Fax album or favourite Fax albums?

 A: Dreamfish, Silence.
 Q: Which of your records are you most proud of?

A: On Fax: I.F. 1&2 – Intergalactic Federation (Moufang & Atmo). On my own label, Brillianttree, Atmo & the Lightz - Eclectic, where I recorded with 12 musicians, all from different genres. Three years of lovely works and lots of Berlin gigs are the result. Love also the double CD package that I designed too as a 10 inch cover ;)))
 Q: Did you keep in touch with Pete through the years?

A: Not much. The reasons are private and after years I can say partially my fault too for sure. He helped me a lot but he got lot from my side also. He should rest in peace and it was very sad to hear that bad news.

Q: You have a CD coming out in September on Psychonavigation Records with Miss Silencio called Hush! From what I’ve heard it sounds great! What can you tell us about this one?
A: Well, the project with Miss Silencio is more smooth, sensitive and melodic. Not so dark as the all other ambient records. Hush! is a very deep fluffy trip, also with nicely played instruments, like harp or zither and female voices that I love too.
 Q: …and finally how would you pay tribute to the great Pete Namlook in words?

A: I want to thank him for all of the music that we did together and excuse me if something went wrong in the past. Music should be forever and his will be for sure! Rest in peace, Peter... 

Chris W. and all citizens of the Intergalactic Federation would like to pass super-mega large thanks to Dr. Atmo for taking the time to answer these interview questions. Hush! is available to preorder now from Psychonavigation Records:

...and to keep up with Dr. Atmo's latest musical adventures look no further than the Brillianttree website:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The news in brief

Hi there. Firstly, my apologies for a short period of absence from the blog. We've been having a heatwave in Britain and I just haven't been able to bring myself to sit at the computer for any extended period of time on warm summer nights. I've also had a few technical problems with the blog, as it wasn't allowing me to enter text. A little bit of investigative work revealed that Blogger now no longer works with Internet Explorer 8, so here I am in Mozilla Firefox. Anyway, no matter...

Over the summer I've been listening to some of the fantastic records coming out from those who once recorded for Fax and I thought it might be nice to put together a little cut out and keep guide to some of the labels that have released and/or will be releasing work by former Fax artists. Feel free to bookmark this page but have your wallet ready, as this could get expensive!

One of the albums I've been listening to recently is Draft III by Material Object. Now, those of you who avidly followed Fax output will know that Material Object recorded two Elektronik albums with Pete Namlook. Draft III was Material Object's ideas for what would have been the third record in the series but tragically Pete never got a chance to collaborate on this one. Musically it picks up where Elektronik II left off, offering up some spine-tingling, ethereal sounds and I can't help but think that had this one been completed it would have been the strongest in the series. As it is it is still an excellent album. It isn't available as a physical release right now (Material Object is reluctant to do so, as he feels it is unfinished) but it is available as a download at this link:  

If you download it (highly recommended) and you like it why not drop Material Object an e-mail to let him know and who knows...we may get a physical release. It certainly deserves one.
Meanwhile Carpe Sonum Records is releasing a CD of Indiana Drones, by Material Object and Phonaut. This record was sent to Pete Namlook for possible release on Fax but whether he got the chance to hear it before his tragic passing is unknown. It is a beautiful album and I'm so glad it is getting the physical release it deserves after a period as a download only.  For more information and to order see here:

Dave from Carpe Sonum is also hard at work on Die Welt ist Klang, an epic eight CD tribute to Pete Namlook, featuring four discs of those who recorded for the label and four discs of contributions from fans. The tracklist is available here:

Profits from this project will go to Pete's family and if you would like a copy and haven't already ordered you can do so here:

All pre-orders will help to fund the completion of the project and the CDs will be housed in a special wooden box. 

At some point in the not-too-distant future Carpe Sonum also plans to release the following: Mick Chillage (an as yet untitled album), Gate Zero - End of Days, Thomas P. Heckmann - Lost Tales vol. 3, Moss Garden (Lee Anthony Norris  & Dimitar Dodovski) - In the Silence of the Subconscious with the possibility of a Robert Musso Transonic 3-CD reissue to follow...
Keith Downey of Psychonavigation Records has also been hard at work, releasing the work of several Fax artists. In addition to Lorenzo Montana's Eilatix, the label has just released A New Dawn by Pure Evil (aka Charles Uzzell Edwards) and the following months will see albums from:
Miss Silencio & Dr. Atmo - Hush! (available in September)
Steve Stoll - Praxis (available in October)
...and Oliver Lieb - Inside Voices (available in November)
Lorenzo Montana's next solo album, Leema Hactus is also slated for a release in early 2014. For a preview of the album see here:

For more information about any of these releases and to order from Psychonavigation Records see here:
Having released the excellent Autumn of Communion 2, Darren Bergstein's Anodize Recordings will also release Earthbound by Ishqamatics (Autumn of Communion's Lee Anthony Norris, along with Matt Hillier) in early September. As with Autumn of Communion 2, Earthbound will be presented in a special tin box. To pre-order see here:

...and finally Lee Anthony Norris' Txt Recordings will be releasing Autumn of Communion 3 in the not-too-distant future. To hear some sound samples of other music on the label and to pre-order the Autumn of Communion CD see here:

Before I disappear here is a quick update on Project Ringelblume, the plan to grow flowers and plants in Pete's memory. I recently received this message and image from Har (aka Third System on the Discogs Fax forums):

I thought I would send you a picture of what Pete's tomato seeds look like now. Incredible plants. Picture taken on or around 27th July on my Samsung moby. Going to be a great crop.

All the best

Many thanks, Har. Much appreciated! My marigolds have also been coming on a treat and I like to think that Pete would be suitably pleased by our horticultural achievements this summer. Here are a few photos of my plants, taken yesterday. Enjoy...

Sunday, 28 July 2013

More marigolds and peppers

Hi all. Just a quick update on Project Ringelblume. These pics were sent on to me by Sven from Germany. The first is of Pete's marigolds and the second one is his peppers. Big thanks, Sven.
Sven has asked me how my project is going and in answer after a heatwave here in GB my marigolds are growing really well but I'm going to wait until all of the flowers are in bloom and then post another update. Coming soon...
Keep sending your pics for Project Ringelblume!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pete Namlook - Official statement

Those of you who follow the various Pete Namlook and Fax records threads on Discogs: will probably have seen that a very touching statement about the great Pete Namlook has now been penned by his daughter, Fabia Kuhlmann. It reads:

As it is not easy, in times of pain, to find the right words. It took me a while to be in the right place to write this, so I thank you for your patience.

Peter Kuhlmann aka Pete Namlook (25.11.1960 - 08.11.2012) died within seconds of a heart attack but will live on in our hearts forever. His fast and unexpected death left us with his soul, living on in his music. His vision gave everyone around him strength and he was not only a composer, he was an Idealist counsellor for his friends as well.

Fax Records was founded by Pete Namlook in 1992 and after 20 years of existence, there will be a change. As I was neither in the financial nor musical position to pursue his heritage, things still have to be figured out. To buy music now you can contact Michael Zosel:

I want to thank everyone for making the pain easier by sharing their grief. It feels good to know that he won't be forgotten by so many people from different cultures and origins.

I thank everyone who wrote moving words to lighten the pain as I could not respond to everyone of you individually.

To the heart of our nearest star
Fabia Kuhlmann

I'm sure I'm not alone in sending my thoughts at what must be a difficult time for Fabia. I hope she can take some comfort in the fact that Pete's legacy lives on in an amazing collection of music, greatly enjoyed by many.
With this tribute from Fabia arriving now seems as good a time as any to also post an update on Project Ringelblume (the plan to grow marigolds and other plants in Pete's memory). After a very slow start to the year weather-wise (there were still frosts here as late as May) we now find ourselves in the middle of a heatwave (typical British weather - toally erratic) and my marigolds have really flourished. When the flowers have come out completely I'll post some more photographs. For now, check these pics out. I think Pete would have enjoyed them.
Don't forget that if you're growing any plants in Pete's memory send your pics to the e-mail address at the top of the blog (over on the right) and I'll post them up here.
On another note if you ever recorded for Fax Records and/or worked on music with Pete please get in touch. I'd love to interview you or to have your own personal tribute up here on the blog.
And...I'm sure you all know that a projected 6 CD/8 LP Pete Namlook tribute album, Die Welt ist Klang  is currently in the works and the tracklisting looks stellar. I'm very much looking forward to hearing this when it appears!

Back soon.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Daniel Pemberton interviewed

This interview was transcribed from a telephone conversation with Daniel on Tuesday 18th June 2013.
Q: Firstly, can you tell us about your musical background? When did you first try to play music?

A: My musical awakening in some ways was…my Dad took me to the planetarium at Madame Tussauds. I was never that interested in music and they had this crazy synthesiser music in there that turned out to be Jean Michel Jarre…and I was just amazed by this and that was the first time I’d really clicked with music. I think I must have been 8 or 9 or something. My Dad got me copies of the Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield records from the local library, which I then caned like crazy, driving my entire family mad and I got very hooked on synthesiser music and started absorbing all that…
...then I think it was about ’92 and electronic music was just starting up in terms of a wave of people like The Orb and stuff like that and there was a band called The Grid and I got very into that sort of thing. I started going to into record shops and there was a section called electronic and it would have like five records and there would be things like The Orb, Artificial Intelligence…and things like that.
Q: And you must have been about 13 at the time?

A: Yeah. 14 or 15 or something and I was buying all that stuff. I was literally able to buy the entire electronic section because it only had about five bands in it. At the same time I was writing for a video game magazine, which in retrospect is really quite bizarre called Game Zone…a very cool, irreverent video game mag and I was getting money from that, which meant I could buy music gear…and I bought a Korg Wavestation, which I still use to this day as a keyboard and a 4-track and I just started trying to make my own music that was, I guess, very heavily influenced by the kind of ambient stuff that was going on and my approach to sound. It wasn’t actually necessarily music in the way that…you’re brought up on the way that music is songs but this was more about kind of creating sonic worlds…

Q: Textures?

A: Yeah…and at the same time there was amazing stuff being made. Future Sound of London had a number one album and The Orb were on Top of the Pops. It seems quite weird now.

Q: It was sort of a golden age in a way. It’s almost as strange as thinking that progressive rock was ever a massive success because it’s so out there.
A: Yeah. So I started to go out to weird ambient clubs, like Telepathic Fish, which was run by Chantal Passamonte - Mira Calix. Ever heard of her? There was her and this guy called Kevin, who bizarrely I was talking to the other day and he used to run these ambient nights called Telepathic Fish, so I used to go to those and then I met Mixmaster Morris and Kev was a great champion of people and I started making tapes of the kind of weird music I was putting together and they started getting passed around and it was this really young kid as well, so it was this novelty of young kid into strange music and there started being…you have to remember this was before the internet, so it was a very different time in terms of how people experience music. Now I would just put something on the internet but I think then…I was going to quite mad parts of Brixton quite young. Again, in retrospect that’s quite odd and you meet with people…and word starts getting around, so I started getting offered record deals. R & S offered me a deal but I was kind of scared. I was still at school. At the same time I’m at school I’m doing this and Fax wanted to put my record out and so that’s what happened.

Q: How did Pete Namlook first make contact with you, then?

A: I was very close with Mixmaster Morris and he had a manager, who he subsequently fell out with, who was kind of looking after my stuff as well. Morris was good friends with Pete and I think it got passed over that way and it was kind of weird because I didn’t really know what I wanted to be doing. This whole idea of signing these five album deals, which kind of mean nothing in a way but that kind of really scared me because I was still at school and had no idea what I wanted to do. You know, I was kind of doing it for fun and bizarrely it wasn’t the album I wanted to put out at the time. I was making these longer kind of things…a bit more like a cross between The Orb and The Future Sound of London type stuff but I ended up not putting it out and I don’t know where it is. It has all disappeared, so the idea was it was going to be this sort of first record but a stepping-stone, being a debut thing but it came out and….
Q: You’ve whizzed through my first six questions there in one go, so fantastic. I was going to ask: you’re 15 or 16 and you’re recording the Bedroom album. Was that a daunting process?

A: Well it kind of was and wasn’t. It’s very weird because I make so much music now – nearly every day. I feel very fortunate to have started off without a sequencer, working on tape. You know, that was all done on a 4-track with nothing else. I didn’t have so much gear. I feel quite privileged to have only had one piece of gear, which was the Wavestation and I think I learnt a lot doing that…you know I think there’s a track on the album called Phosphine and that was really long. I had to do a take and I actually remember that day and it was blazing hot in the middle of summer…not like the summers we get now. You know my mates were all out and I was stuck indoors really trying to nail this and I had to get it all in one take…it was a nine minute track. I couldn’t torpedo in or anything. You have to get all of the synth parts done at once, so yeah it was quite an experience to record it and I think in some ways there was a lot of love in that record, you know because it was the first time I was doing all of those things. Now I do so much stuff and I think I write some music that’s really good…some of it is a bit rubbish but I don’t spend that long on it now…producing one performance.
Q: I suppose really when the pressure is on you haven’t got the time?

A: Yeah. I think I will spend an absolute bloody fortune and time trying to get the sounds really right for big films. I still want to make things as good as they can be and there’s certain aspects to the way I work that haven’t even really changed, yet I’m working on bigger canvases sometimes. Just because you work on a bigger canvas doesn’t mean it’s a better piece of music and there’s lots of experimental stuff …I remember there’s a hidden track at the end of the album that was from my sister’s fourth birthday party…trying out all of these ideas on that record, which I think are quite inspiring now.

Q: Were you ever tempted to do another Fax record?

A: Well, kind of. I was a bit of a pain at that age and I kind of fell out with Pete. Pete is probably a lot like me. Very headstrong and very…like…my way or the highway. I really didn’t like the Fax artwork. I understand it. In a way it’s very clever because it created a whole…I mean there’s amazing stuff about Fax and the fact that you’ve got someone creating music and being able to make a living and being able to put out a vast output of work…and they are independent – answerable to no-one is absolutely fantastic but I guess one of the reasons that works in a way is because they have this generic style.

Q: Uniformity to the artwork that makes it quite collectible?
A: …anyway, I didn’t like that so I ended up trying to make my own. There are a hundred copies of the record with a kind of little tracing paper overlay, so they are more valuable now…so I made a hundred overlays and put them on top and that p****d Pete off and I can’t remember…I think I was annoying. I think I wound him up and then Massive Attack were going to put out my next record on their label, Melankolic, and I was going to be one of the first signings on that. It was very heavily influenced by Blade Runner…in fact I just bought myself a CS-80. Anyway, it was quite a good record actually and Virgin decided it wasn’t commercial enough, which it wasn’t and I started becoming really disillusioned with the music industry and I kind of realised that you weren’t really free to have that much artistic control in a way. Often it seemed to be: you do what we say and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life making the same kind of music. Bands kind of keep making the same type of music and I wanted to absorb all music, rather than just do one style and so I slightly turned my back on putting records out and fell into doing TV music. I took a year off from the end of school and the idea was to see how that panned out and I’m still on my year out, which is quite funny.

Q: Ha-ha! You just whizzed through another three of my questions! I was going to ask: is it me or does the music on Bedroom seem a bit dark? 

A: I would say that is probably because I wasn’t very good at making light music. It’s funny, really because the other stuff I was doing was lighter but that never got heard. Yes, it is quite a dark record but it is a lot easier to make dark music than it is happy music if you’re making electronic stuff.

Q: After you and Pete drifted away from one another did you keep in touch with what was happening on the Fax label?
A: Erm, yes and no. With Fax I would be very frustrated with Pete’s stuff. I love the Air records. I can tell that he spent more than a day on it and I would kind of tell him off and say: you should be doing more records like this. Don’t do these…like 40 minutes… that were like two keyboard sounds held down, looping. I would get annoyed with the slight laziness of some Fax releases because I knew that when Pete did something that was really good it would…he had an immense amount of skill and sometimes I think he did too much… I would rather have five Namlook records that were really good than 50 that were ok. I sort of kept up but at the same time I wasn’t like a rabid Fax fan. Certain records I really liked and others are a bit lazy but I loved the independent ethos behind the label, which I think is really awesome. I loved the way it encouraged people, I think, more established artists just to experiment and make music and for me that’s what music should be about: creating all the time and not worrying about…I think the big problem with the music industry is it’s all about creating a brand and just having this brand for the rest of your life.

Q: Formulaic?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you get back in touch with Pete through the years or was that it?
A: That was kind of it. I mean I…there were some other things that I…I’m still good friends with Charlie. Charles Uzzell Edwards. Charlie is great and I went to America and I did a record with him. He lived in this crazy tree house in Marin County: very Fax in a way. I went out there to make a record and we had field recordings, we were firing synths off…banging things together. It was really good fun. Charlie now is back in London…a graffiti artist. He’s a really, really nice bloke. So him, Morris…I mean lots of people I still send Christmas cards to but they’ve drifted away and I maybe bump into them now and again.

Q: And you went through a stage of journalism?

A: Well, I was always doing that alongside the music. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at that stage. I was doing a lot of really interesting things in some ways. The late ‘90s was a really exciting time for me because it was the birth of the internet and thinking, rather than how much money can we make, which is what it became and what it is now. I’m quite alienated by what that’s become. There are obviously aspects that just aren’t the same. It’s crowded out by narcissism and commercialisation.

Q: It’s a bit like the record industry, really? There were times when the opportunities were there to create music and be freer than perhaps later on. I think when people get wise to making money it becomes a whole different ball game.

A: Once you can make money and people work out how to make money they keep on formulating and there’s a golden era of anything when people are making money but haven’t quite worked out why. But they kind of see: oh that’s got something to do with it. Let’s make some money. Once they work out a formula they slavishly follow that formula and eventually bleed it dry, which is kind of what happened to the music industry. I’ve been doing film and TV for so long and I’ve always really loved doing film and TV. I can do massive orchestral pieces, pieces based on electronic sound design and experimentation but people are always so sniffy. They’re like, oh don’t you write the music for yourself and everything I do I try to do for myself…you know, creating things that I like but what’s interesting is that over the years people have gone from I don’t want to do TV music to how can I get into TV music because it’s the only place where there’s still a bit of money.
Q: What was your opening in film and TV?

A: There was a director called Paul Wilmshurst and he heard about Bedroom and his then-girlfriend at the time had written about it and he really liked it and he got me to work on a Channel 4…I think it was a series of documentaries that they were doing and they were literally done after school…after I did my homework. I remember I had to make a drum loop on a MiniDisc player and just loop it. I never sampled anything on computers and we got on really well. He got bigger documentaries that did quite well and I think TV at that time was quite possibly populated with people who looked down on TV music as something people did because they needed the money and it was not something they cared about. I loved being able to experiment with all of these different kind of ideas, so I guess I had a lot of enthusiasm towards it and I’ve still got it today, really. That showed and Paul always wanted to work with me. He liked what I did and it would carry on like that.

Q: Are there any standout projects that you’ve worked on that you’ve really enjoyed?   

A: Yeah, I mean there are tons of things for all different reasons. The Edwardian Country House, which was big for me because it was the first time I’d used an orchestra. I’d never tried that before and it was really scary. Certain shows I love. There was a show called Bad Lads Army. There are so many things I’ve done now. Some I’ve loved and some I’ve forgotten about. That’s a much longer conversation.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: A Ridley Scott film called The Counselor and even that…there’s still elements of things I was doing when I was 16 that are in that score. I recorded at Abbey Road with a massive orchestra. Some of the best stuff in the film is weird, treated guitars and you know, slightly more experimental, synthy sound designy stuff…that I did at home in my bedroom…slightly bigger than the bedroom I grew up in.

Q: Am I right in thinking you’ve presented a track for the forthcoming Namlook tribute album?

A: I’ve got so much unreleased music because I didn’t really care about releasing it in a way. I was a bit precious about my music at that stage and I didn’t really want to give anything out. I think I’ve put something on there that I kind of did for fun from this ambient project called Opaque. I still make music for myself that no one hears…for my own personal enjoyment.

Q: Was that something from a long time ago or more recent?

A: I think that was from 1997 or ’98 on a MiniDisc digital multi-track. Opaque was done on a MiniDisc recording system. Now it seems funny that you don’t worry…you don’t even think about this idea that you can’t have too many tracks because there’ll be tape hiss and that sort of stuff but then it was a big deal. It was like how do I…

Q: Was Bedroom recorded on a MiniDisc?

A: No. That was recorded on an old fashioned tape 4-track - a normal cassette.

Q: And you gave that to Pete and he transferred that and digitally…?

A: I mastered the whole thing wrongly. The funniest thing about that is that the whole album is slightly slower than it should be because I ran it all off on to DAT at one stage and you had to mix it live and I would do lots of live panning to make it sound bigger but you have four tracks and I might have one track that I would move around and I would have to manually do that down to DAT. Anyway, I ran the whole album down and sequenced it because it’s very important to me how things flow and it was only when I finished it all that I thought this sounds kind of different and I looked at my 4-track and it had speed control and the speed control had dropped slightly for the whole thing and I didn’t realise until it was too late, so it’s quite funny. The actual Bedroom album is slightly slower than it should be.

Q: Is it noticeably slower compared to the recordings that you did or just a very tiny fraction?

A: Yes, it’s quite noticeable. Something like the track Antarctica is supposed to be in D minor and it’s halfway between D and C sharp, so it’s dropped between a tone and half a tone so if you wanted to mix it with a track in the same key you’d have to change the pitch. That’s why it probably sounds slightly darker as well…because it’s a bit slower than it should be.

Q: So, when you release the reissue one day…the remaster…?

A: I did think about it but I don’t think anybody cares. I think there are only about five people out there who care. I’ve got so much stuff that no one’s heard. The weird thing is that I’ve always made music but no one’s ever heard it.

Q: I was personally pretty shocked when I came home one night and found an e-mail in my inbox, saying RIP Pete Namlook. I’d had a bit of correspondence with Pete and…some musicians…if you buy their music they don’t really want to communicate, whereas Pete…he’d be quite happy to do that, so I was quite shocked and quite upset by it, which is why I decided to start up the tribute website...
A: Yes. When I heard the news I was really shocked as well because that record (Bedroom) really changed my life. I now have…I’m super lucky. I’ve got this job and I get paid to make music and to kind of have fun and…OK, so sometimes it’s a real pain when you’ve got directors and producers being annoying but most of the time it’s really good. I kind of owe all of that really, the genesis of that to Bedroom.

Q: So, for you it’s a pivotal moment in your life?

A: Yes.

Q: The last question I was going to ask was how would you pay tribute to the great Pete Namlook in words?

A: He released a million records every week (loud laughs all round). Some of the most interesting things about Pete I would say are as much in his kind of attitude towards music, as much as the music itself. I think if you want to be an artist what a lot of people forget is that you need to make money.

Q: Otherwise it’s not sustainable?

A: You need to have some way that allows you to keep going. I think there’s this massive myth of the tortured, starving artist and if you look at all of the great artists they’ve worked out a way of carrying on doing what they’re doing by getting someone else to foot the bill or by being self-sufficient and I think what was great about Pete was that he created a self-sufficient system that allowed him to make music the whole time, which I think is absolutely brilliant and I dreamt that the internet could allow that to happen and there’s the great thing now of being able to self-distribute, which is amazing, I think, but whether people can make any money out of that…I’ve always got a very soft spot for Fax Records. It’s a weird thing because I haven’t really talked about it that much (pauses). I don’t really talk about it that much. I like doing it. That’s another great thing about doing TV and film music: no one cares. In some ways you’re not affected by outside forces. The only person who does care is you. Sometimes it’s good to be affected by outside forces but there’s so much noise out there.

A huge, ever growing, pulsating ultra massive thank you to Daniel for taking the time to talk to NMLK and for patiently enduring a barrage of e-mails until our schedules finally allowed this interview to happen!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Quick update

Hi all. This is just a very quick update before I get back to the job of typing up my latest interview for the blog. On Tuesday night I had a chat on the phone with Mr. Daniel Pemberton. Many of you will no doubt know that with his Bedroom album Daniel was the youngest artist ever to record for the Fax label. We had a fascinating conversation and I hope you'll enjoy it when it's up here posted. Yesterday I transcribed the 25-minute interview and it took me four hours, working on and off to get it on paper. Unfortunately for reasons too complicated to go into here I couldn't type it straight up on my computer...ok...I'll admit it was busy trying to get our new cat to get on with our older ones. Cat warfare! Now you know. So, I now have the job of typing up the interview for your enjoyment. Coming soon... By the way here are a few photographs of the Autumn of Communion 2 CD with its special packaging. I can highly recommend this excellent effort.
...and here is the latest photo of my marigolds planted in memory of Pete, for Project Ringelblume. Getting there now, I think.  If you have any photos of flowers or any other plants that you are growing in memory of Pete don't forget to send them in my direction (using the e-mail address top right on the blog) and I'll post them up here for all to see.
Right...time for more typing up. Interview coming soon...