Ever since Northern Irish producer Jack Hamill, AKA Space Dimension Controller, burst onto the scene with 2009's otherworldly EP The Love Quadrant, he's consistently surprised and delighted us with his stratospheric take on alienated future funk and sci-fi-hi-fi boogie-infused techno. A thrilling series of 12"s was followed by a fantastic album on R&S, all of which we giddily consumed with the kind of excitement usually reserved for a chip supper.
Last month saw Hamill step back into a time machine for the release of Orange Melamine, his first full-length on Ninja Tune. A "crunchy, tattered and enjoyably odd" album, it consists of tracks that he recorded in his bedroom at the tender age of 18. Coming on like Boards of Canada at their most pastoral having a blast with some seriously waterlogged old Detroit techno records, it's a beautiful and beguiling record that sits somewhere between the retro-futurist impulses of Blade Runner and JG Ballard's wildest suburban fantasies.
We caught up with Hamill to get the low down on what when down way back when.
Let's step back in time...what kind of hardware or software were you using around the time you recorded Orange Melamine?
Space Dimension Controller: It was Cubase 3 on my old gaming PC with two Tascam tape decks for recording. I can't remember what plugins I would have been using. I had an old Pioneer Spring Reverb unit and some analog delays and an Alesis Quadraverb. Synth-wise there was a Yamaha TX7, Moog Voyager, Tiracon 6V, Crumar Bit One, Roland MKS70 and an MKS50. I think that's it!
I'm really into how the record seems to fuse futurism and the pastoral. Was that a conscious part of the plan? And how do you see those two worlds merging in a broader way?
I was 18 years old, so I was mainly making it as a reference to the future and the pastoral wasn't really part of of my psyche yet. It was something that references what was to come musically later in my career, and it was what I was genuinely into at the time. I think electronic music has always been futuristic in some way, we now we're kind of nearly at the entry point for Total Recall reality. Things are catching up with our old idea of the future, and we're going to see these young internet kids really pushing the envelope. I've noticed a few scenes in London of late that really have that new sound, and you've obviously got producers like Aphex Twin who keep evolving in some way.
There's a really pleasing sense of the prosaic about the song titles. What's that all about? Do we imbue titles with too much meaning?
These track titles are innocent and youthful; they suit the record's with a slight narrative. I mean things can be too literal but I think a track title is a fun thing. Mogwai definitely own that field.
Imagine I've never heard music itself but I've got an immaculate understanding of descriptive terms. How do you describe the album to me in five words?
Beginning, patience, VHS, nostalgic, free.
What kind of 18 year old were you?
I was a geek and I just worked on music the whole time. Belfast is an incredible city to grow up in and it moulded me in many ways. It's hard to explain what I was like but spent everyday studying music and the existentialism that comes with that definitely shaped my youth.
Who likes sci-fi more: you or Jeff Mills?
Jeff! He has E.T fingers and has always been ahead of his time.
Orange Melamine is out now on Ninja Tune.