News of Pete Namlook’s death reached me early Thursday morning, November 15, 2012.
Words can’t begin to explain how much his passing means to me. I’m stunned, and heartbroken. FAX was the first label I obsessively collected and I probably own more music with his name on it that any other (well, it’s probably a tie between him and Atom). I definitely own more releases on FAX label than any other, at one point I think I was one of a handful of people in the entire world with a complete FAX label collection (not counting the box sets of course, of which I have only one).
When I was first starting to play out, I DJed exclusively in chillout rooms. This was by choice, I couldn’t be bothered with all that ridiculous kiddie rave music, no, I was into SERIOUS, deep, ambient music. People would wander in, intending only to be there for a second, and then 20 minutes later, they’d pick themselves off the couch and come over and ask me WHAT IS THIS AMAZING MUSIC they were hearing. In those days, the answer more often than not was “Pete Namlook”.
I always liked Namlook’s collaborations more than his solo stuff, but the Air releases in particular were true masterpieces – complex, evolving works that gave themselves time to change and breath.
I remember when, after I finally managed to track down Shades of Orion, a collab between he and Tetsu Inoue that I’d heard so much about but never heard (this was back before you could hear any track any time) and I sat down and listened to the entire release front to back without pause, by myself, and the moment it was done I got up and wrote Peter an email and told him how special it had been to me, and how much I had appreciated it.
To my great surprise I had a response within the hour, he told me he was deeply honored by my email and that he could tell how how much it meant to me, so he wanted to tell me a story about it’s recording as sort of a reward for being so diligent in tracking down that release.
He then explained how he and Tetsu has been holed up in Tetsu’s studio at 2350 Broadway in NYC the summer of 1993 without A/C and how they’d taken a small break from the recording. He was looking out the window of Tetsu’s apartment to the street below and suddenly saw an enormous black man wearing wrap-around mirror shades step out of a car, and he thought to himself, “Have you ever retired a human by mistake?”. He got up from the window, went back to the synths, and he and Tetsu recorded the final track on that release.
I’ve always treasured that story and that he would take the time to respond. His music will take on even greater meaning to me in his passing. Goodbye, Peter, you’ll always have my infinite gratitude for your music. There are very few artists I can say changed my life, but you’re one of them.
(This was originally posted to Facebook on 11/15/2012)