Belfast electro/house producer Jack Hamill continues to push his Space Dimension Controller project in worthwhile directions with Exostack, his latest EP on London's R&S Records (the label that also gave us his high-concept full-length, 2013's Welcome to Mikrosector-50). While that album focused as much on fleshing out Hamill's retro-futuristic universe via spoken-word interludes as it did on making listeners dance, Exostack forgoes narrative pretension, instead offering a straight-up slice of groovy space-funk that speaks for itself.
The title track is easily the standout here. Although it essentially consists of variations on a single theme (for eight minutes), Hamill easily holds monotony at bay, knowing just when to introduce a new element or subtract something that's in danger of overstaying its welcome. There's an authentic, hands-on vibe throughout as well, especially during the intro, which conjures the image of many a knob turned in real time.
The Kornel Kovacs remix is also worthy, featuring its own subdued vibe and melody while retaining enough of the original's elements to make the exercise meaningful. The digital-only Minimal Violence remix is perhaps less essential — a competent enough tribal interpretation — but the EP closes nicely with "Biopan," another original track and a solid addition to Hamill's more laid-back repertoire.
While less ambitious than the arguably overblown Welcome to Mikrosector-50, the back-to-basics approach of Exostack is frankly refreshing, and makes one more open towards whatever grand narrative Hamill might unveil in the future. Then again, it would be fine if he continued in this simpler vein, as well. (R&S)