The other of Hawtin’s major aliases before he became a superstar DJ and the whole ‘minimal’ thing of the early 2000s was FUSE. Here, just over 25 years later, FUSE’s only released album Dimension Intrusion and the Train Tracs EP are reissued with a follow-up album recorded in 1993 but never previously made available, Computer Space.
The early and mid 1990s were a very fertile period for Hawtin. The Dimension Intrusion album is a splendid artifact of the period showing more melodic Detroit-inspirations on the wistful UVA and Nite Drive; alongside the warehouse shaking Chicago acid anthems of FU and Substance Abuse. Outside of North America, Dimension Intrusion was licensed and released by Warp Records where it fitted into an aesthetic defined by the Artificial Intelligence series. One of Hawtin’s other aliases, UP!, had already contributed the track Spiritual High to the first Artificial Intelligence compilation in 1992.
Shortly after Dimension Intrusion was released the Train Tracs EP was released on Warp. Extending and remixing the ideas from Train Trac 1 on Dimension Intrusion, the sparse drum machine and spatial FX experiment sits nicely alongside Plastikman’s Helikopter and Spastik, both from 1993. It is easy to picture Hawtin tuning these tracks – the rising snares and drum machine hand claps – to sound perfect in Detroit’s abandoned Packard Plant.
During this period, the previously unreleased Computer Space was being recorded. The following year Hawtin would be collaborating with Pete Namlook for two ambient albums From Within (1994) and From Within 2 (1995). Based in Frankfurt, Namlook’s Fax Records and prodigious collaboration ethos, led to numerous long ambient, Berlin-School inspired albums with many of the younger electronic producers of the era – Mixmaster Morris, Tetsu Inoue, Uwe Schmidt. The long 35 minute titular track of Computer Space points to where those Namlook sessions would go – wafty synth washes, and spindly trills, as well as the portentous bass pulses that would underpin his later Plastikman epic Consumed (1998). The other four shorter tracks feel like outtakes from Plastikman sessions – heavily reverb on acid pulses, drum machines on overdrive. Runner mirrors Train Tracs and would have been a solid addition to that EP. Whilst it is clear why this album never saw the light of day in 94, it’s inclusion in this package closes the loop on Hawtin’s evolution through the 90s and the slippage between his many pseudonyms.
Each of the three records is accompanied by the the bright geometric artwork of his brother Matthew Hawtin whose own style and reputation as a visual artists was developing in parallel. The vinyl package is eye-waveringly priced, but there promises to be a digital release for completionists looking to hear Computer Space, and if you’re in London, Vinyl Factory is running an exhibition of Matthew Hawtin’s works alongside audio of the albums.