Sleeping Dogs Lie 81: Pete Namlook

namlook-Vb. Peter Kuhlmann, Germany. Pete “Namlook” Kuhlmann is comfortably the most prolific and arguably the best of the new wave of ambient house artists to originally emerge in the early 90s. Before his immersion in the world of dance music, he had experimented with the sitar and new age jazz. His early solo EPs were shrouded in mystery, the labels distinguished solely by the contact number FAX +49-69/454064 – which later transpired to be the title of the label, inaugurated in 1992. From his base in Frankfurt, Germany, several collaborations emerged every week on 12-inch vinyl, via a stable of co-conspirators who include Dr. Atmo, Craig Peck, DJ Hubee, DJ Brainwave, DJ Criss, Pascal FEOS and Mixmaster Morris (the latter also recording with Namlook as Dreamfish on the FAXWORLD subsidiary). Releases were colour-coded to differentiate between the types of music – yellow for trance, red for clubhouse, orange for breakbeat, black for hardcore, aquamarine for jazz, green for house and blue for ambient – the most popular genre in terms of sales reaction. Each was also recorded in a cycle of eight – one each with each collaborator, always beginning with DJ Criss (as Deltraxx). Only five or six hundred copies of any given release ever emerged, quickly selling out, before the “cycle” was reissued on a compilation CD. Namlook also found time for the Sequential project. Released in the UK via Rising High Records, this allowed him to work with any of his roster, ironically, out of sequence. As if that were not enough, Namlook also recorded ambient “solo” records as Air, Syn or Silence (with Dr. Atmo). These recordings were symptomatic of the “chill-out” factor that hit European clubs in the early 90s. On several of the tracks it took up to 10 minutes for a distinctive beat or rhythm to appear, with Namlook spending time building the atmospheric, neo-filmic musical soundscapes.

Since 1994 FAX and its various sublabels have concentrated on more widely available CD and MP3 releases, albeit with no slowing down of the prolific output. Namlook has also collaborated with such leading electronic artists as Atom Heart, Tetsu Inoue, Jonah Sharp, David Moufang aka Move D, Richie Hawtin (on the From Within series), Klaus Schulze (on The Dark Side Of The Moog series), and Bill Laswell (on The Dark Side Of The Moog, Psychonavigation and Outland series).

Namlook is now perceived to be one of the leading instigators of the “ethno-trance” movement, combining droning electronica with ethnic instrumentation and samples of natural sound. Rather than riding the ambient bandwagon during the early 90s, his overview of the new music’s place and purpose rings true several years later: “I think it’s very important to enhance the notion of a global ambient movement, and to realise that a lot of music which we didn’t expect to be ambient is in fact very, very ambient. When you examine other cultures you discover that what we recognise as a very new movement is in fact incredibly ancient”.

01 Pete Namlook: “Reality” (1:02:18) from “Namlook V” (1994)