Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (2024)

Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (1)


A Strangely Isolated Place





Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (2)

On hindsight,Silent State began with little fanfare, given where we stand today with the label’s output over the past few years. Reissues and uploads of classic albums from Pete Namlook and the extended FAX family suddenly started to become available on Bandcamp—to everyone’s surprise—and speculation was quick to rise, given the passing of Pete Namlook many years ago. However, this situation has since been clarified by Silent State founder Nils Wortmann and he can now focus on fulfilling the label’s ambition; bringing some of the most genre-defining ambient and ambient techno albums, to wider audiences through new masters and pristine physical editions.

The next album to be reissued on Silent State, is indeed worthy of the defining tag, combining FAX founder Pete Namlook with Geir Jenssen, aka Biosphere, under the The Fires Of Ork collaboration, and one of the most revered collaborations within the early days of ambient techno.

A piece of dark art ambient wizardry, Geir’s fingerprints run deep through its mystical narration- beautiful analog textures, samples, bleeps, and foreboding atmospheres. Combined with Pete’s expansive long-form musical storytelling (also quite literally, through the distorted German voice samples), the two composers are captured working in absolute harmony, in what is undoubtedly one of the best, and finest ambient techno albums of our time.

I took the opportunity to ask Nils Wortmann, founder and operator of Silent State a few questions below surrounding the labels approach and this release. Preorder the vinyl reissue, featuring fresh mastering from Stephan Mathieu and available on 2xLP on April 5th via theSilent State Bandcamp page.

The Fires Of Ork (2024 Remaster) by The Fires Of Ork

Interview with Silent State founder, Nils Wortmann., March 2024.

How did the Silent State label begin?

Nils Wortmann: First and foremost, with pure fandom. I’m a die-hard music fan and vinyl addict and listen to Ambient music for almost three decades now. It's a sonic tapestry that envelops me, offering inner calmness, inspiration, and a sort of escape from the complexity of this world. A few months before the pandemic, I embarked on a personal stretch goal that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Inspired by David Toop's "Ocean Of Sound," I aimed to write a book in German compiling 100 ambient album reviews for beginners in the genre. During this period, I found myself immersed in Pete Namlook's intriguing music, which accompanied me through the writing process. This led me to question why no one was reissuing these remarkable albums on vinyl. Securing a publisher for the book project boosted my confidence, and I began searching for assistance to steer me in the right direction. Reflecting back, I'm grateful that I persevered and continued my exploration. In March 2021, I successfully obtained the master rights to Peter's works through a legally binding contract with the former Pete Namlook estate administrator, in alignment with his family's consent. Their approval was of utmost importance to me.

In the beginning, launching a one-man label was intimidating, and delving into all the associated tasks felt daunting. However, dipping toes into Graphic Design, Contracting, Licensing, Distribution, Royalties, Data Analysis, Marketing & Promotion, Branding, Managing finances, budgeting for projects, Sync, and the entire vinyl manufacturing process was and still is really exciting. I am still learning a lot. Yet, the most rewarding aspect that energizes me is engaging with the Ambient community: connecting with former Fax heads, new fans, artists, other labels, and contributors to these reissue projects. I am incredibly grateful for this experience, though it leaves me somewhat speechless.

Was Silent State always going to be a FAX reissue-focused project?

NW: My goal then and now remains to honor Pete Namlook's legacy and share his timeless music through physical releases. While this serves as the guiding principle for Silent State, my aspiration extends to creating a platform for lesser-known artists like my man Günter Schlienz and releasing their albums on vinyl. Perhaps one day, I'll reach that point, as currently, label mates seem to primarily appreciate the Namlook releases the most.




Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (3)

How are you deciding which albums to reissue?

NW:I got my favorite albums from the Namlook cosmos and have made careful selections thus far, I believe. There's no magic formula to it, and I don't analyze streaming numbers to determine which tracks and albums are most popular. That approach doesn't resonate with me. Take Air V, for example; it doesn't appear to have garnered much popularity, but it has deeply resonated with me and continues to do so. I often come back to the album. Eventually, I plan to reissue it and simply hope for support from the audience. Is it a financial gamble? Most likely...

How do you manage the production process for reissues? Do you have full remit of choice when it comes to mastering, pressing etc? And are any artists still involved?

NW: As a solo entity running a label, the flexibility of the Silent State release schedule allows for meticulous planning of reissues well in advance. Lead time is key, so to speak. Firstly, ensuring proper mastering of the audio material for vinyl treatment is crucial. I've been fortunate to enlist Stephan Mathieu for mastering the initial catalog numbers, such as Air I/II, Silence I, and now Fires Of Ork, resulting in exceptional sound quality. Stephan Mathieu is undeniably an eminent authority in the Ambient world and one of the most experienced mastering engineers out there. Once the master prints are received, I liaise with the pressing plant to estimate delivery dates, followed by rough backward scheduling, placing orders and settling invoices.

Artwork design is paramount, and while I have a vision beforehand, I've entrusted Juliane Hohlbaum with all SSR releases' designs, and Joanna Jon's skills for gatefold sleeve and inlay designs for Fires Of Ork. We collaborate in refinement meetings to finalize the design. For upcoming projects, I've secured Andre Ruello, known for his work on almost every Fax album, which is incredibly exciting! Upon receiving audio material and print data, the pressing plant handles production until I inspect the test pressings diligently. Although nerve-wracking at times, such as the Silence I reissue requiring multiple lacquer cuts, these incidents are rare. Fires Of Ork, in particular, has turned out exceptionally well. Geir and I decided to release the album on Silent State, agreeing to collaborate on design but with less involvement in the physical production phase.




Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (4)

This all speaks to a great focus on quality, and I see this first-hand with the records I have purchased from you. I probably know this answer, but is this a time-intensive project for you?

NW: First and foremost, thank you for noticing and asking me about it. The truth of the matter is, that it is a time-intensive project. But although the tasks can be time-consuming, I genuinely enjoy them. In the midst of all the digital pressure, I find solace in unplugging and engaging in hands-on activities like preparing download codes, stamping envelopes, writing postcards and recently, delving into lino-printing, such as for "Fires Of Ork." The other day, I produced 100 lino prints using a wooden tortilla press I acquired from the US. It was both exhausting and incredibly enjoyable because my latest son insisted in helping me out and we listened to some records while printing together. Additionally, I plan to include a review from a fan, Michael Thomas, whose journey with Fax Records began with "Fires Of Ork." I did this with Paul Livingstone, another Fax head, for Air II and it was also really well received. These are moments in time and a rare chance to revisit these classic albums and to pay respect to the art and to properly engrave it in history.




Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (5)

Fires Of Ork is, of course, a big favorite of mine. Was it an easy project to clear?

NW: Surprisingly, clearing this album was relatively straightforward. Geir, being quite approachable, mentioned in our e-mail exchanges that he frequently receives inquiries about a vinyl reissue of Fires of Ork. Given that Fires of Ork is also a personal favorite of mine, we quickly established a licensing agreement and initiated the project. For me, it was an obvious decision, considering I own every Biosphere album, and Geir is undoubtedly one of the foremost ambient artists out there. This opportunity feels truly unique, and I'm certain I'll fondly reminisce about this thrilling project in the future.




Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (6)

Two of Silent State’s previous heralded reissues on my turntables.

Do you have a favorite of the Namlook or Biosphere catalog, one that you may not get to reissue?

Unlike many Namlook enthusiasts, I deeply connect with the Air and Silence series, cherishing them dearly. Additionally, I have a strong appreciation for the "Music For Urban Meditation" series, which, surprisingly, doesn't receive as much attention as it deserves imho. While reissuing the latter one on vinyl carries financial risks, I fear I might regret not attempting it. Man, these drones are just amazing. Moreover, I find “Music For Ballet“ fascinating. In my quest for more insight, I engaged in a lengthy conversation with Christian Moeller, the former director of "Electro Clips," and delved into the archives of the Institute for Urban History Frankfurt, exploring reviews and learning more about the William Forsythe ensemble. I even obtained licenses for some previously unreleased images from Ivan Nemec who photographed this orcherstration. This reissue project has been ongoing for over 1.5 years now and may still require additional time, especially as it will include a booklet, and progress moves at a slow pace. Nonetheless, as the saying goes, good things take time. Another favorite is undoubtedly the Sultan series...still ahead of it's time and such an incredible piece of art.

What other gems can we expect soon?

NW:I'm constantly working on new projects, like the aforementioned Music For Ballet project, but I also enjoy keeping some surprises for label friends. While I can't reveal specific details about release schedule just yet, rest assured that there are some exciting gems in the works! The next reissue is planned for November 2024.


Preorder Fires of Ork via Silent State on April 5th.

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Silent State + The Fires Of Ork (Pete Namlook + Geir Jenssen) - A Strangely Isolated Place (2024)
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