People loved Fax +49-69/450464 – to call Fax a cult record label really doesn’t do justice to the passion. It’s one of the imprints that you most likely discovered by chance rather than through marketing, and if you slip in on just the right entry point, you slide into a catalog bursting with unique and unworldly music waiting to be discovered.
And while there was probably never a moment when this re-issue of Zenith’s self-titled record by Psychonavigation wouldn’t have been welcomed, it now seems particularly timely. Fax owner Pete Namlook died of a heart attack four years ago; one half of Zenith, Tetsu Inoue, has been “missing” for many years now. It hasn’t made Unsolved Mysteries but his unexplained disappearance or at least total, unyielding silence has puzzled friends and colleagues as well as fans who continue to find so much wonder within Fax’s sprawling but now permanently fenced-in confines.
Emails to his address have gone unanswered, snail-mail to 2350 Broadway was unsuccessful (although curiously not ‘returned to sender’), and I’ve even heard from label owners this last year wishing to contact him to resolve pending business issues, as they were also unsuccessful in contacting him. I have heard from some of his collaborators who have worked with him on and off for twenty years who are also unable to reach him. At this point, two possibilities come to mind:
(1) He’s being reclusive
(2) He’s dead
To bring us back to those breathing times, Zenith was released in 1994, the same year as Tetsu Inoue’s minimalist masterpiece Ambiant Otaku and at a time when Namlook & Friends were churning out an incredible quantity of ambient records. Fax always seemed to be one of the independent labels that should have run by subscription, as the process of buying their records always felt more like “discovery” than “commerce.”
Zenith is florid, flourishing, and owing to the influence of Vivanco conjures up melodies and rhythms that coalesce to form fragments of dancefloor tracks and songs out of the ether. “Sacred Mirror” imparts a feeling of sinister, creeping dread before opening up into a rousing, capturing dance – like the feeling of walking through the bombed out neighborhoods of a ’90s New York to find the warmest hearth behind corrugated steel doors. For some people they’ll open the door and see some old friends that haven’t aged a day, and that makes this reissue a bit sad as well as wonderful. For others, this is all new – the doors, the hearth and the people around it – and only a bit disappointing to know the end of the story when you’re just learning the beginning.
Support! This was originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 137 featuring Demuir, Igor Jadranin, Apollo Music Group with DJ Heather, Lil’Mark and Dan X, a DJ’s guide to music streaming and more. Support Real House Music and become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music for just $1 an issue!