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Space Dimension Controller
Welcome To Mikrosector-50 James Ubaghs , March 22nd, 2013 11:23

Jack Hamill, aka Space Dimension Controller, is an unusual sort in a number of ways. Firstly, he's a precociously gifted and near virtuosic producer. It's hard to fathom that his perfectly formed 2009 debut release 'The Love Quadrant' could have been the work of someone so young, what with its sublimely smooth yet giddily gauche cosmic-funk perfection. Such elegant debauchery felt like it could only be from the hands of an aging whiskey-soaked lothario, a past-his-peak Don Draper-type character, defiantly proving he still had it. Such accomplished, fist pumping sensuality felt hard earned, but instead it was the work of a mere teenager. It was impressive stuff.

Hamill is also unusual in his idiosyncratic and slightly unhinged commitment to the narrative and cinematic possibilities of music. He's constructed a surprisingly complex space-opera mythos, featuring the destruction of earth and the trials and tribulations of its desperate exiles, while detailing the misadventures of his time travelling and frequently debaucherous alter ego Mr. 8040. Sci-fi narratives as structuring devices in electronic music have been used many times in the past - most famously by the likes of Drexciya, and indeed there is a strong Detroit undercurrent to Hamill's sound - but few run quite so far with it as he does.

On past releases the narrative has largely been implicit, mostly signposted by imagination-stroking song titles like 'Flight of the Escape Vessel' and 'Journey to the Core of the Unknown Sphere', but on his debut full length Welcome to Mikrosector-50 it comes right to the forefront. In a sure to be divisive move, the album works as a full on radio-play, featuring a hefty dose of narrative interludes centred on Mr. 8040's - voiced in an impressively gravelly manner by Hamill himself - return journey to the future and his search for his lost love… or something to that effect. In truth it's largely unintelligible, and the specifics of Space Dimension Controller's universe would be impossible to make out without referring to press materials which handily spell out the plot.

On initial listen the heavy handed prevalence of the story telling elements proves an obstacle to the enjoyment of the impeccable beats; dialled firmly into a mode of excellently naff and euphoric galactic electro-funk, as opposed to the surprising IDM and ambient turns of 2011's Pathway to Tiraquon 6 mini-album. Yet on repeat listens it's hard not to give in to the stupidly enthusiastic absurdity of it all. This is an album with a lot to offer if you're willing to meet its foibles half-way. The only real parallel that springs to mind to such gloriously, and knowingly cheesy, retro-futurism is Daft Punk's Discovery, an album that proves ever more ahead of the curve, and weirdly timeless as the years go by. And, in fact, Space Dimension Controller repeats the android Frenchmen's trick of tactically deployed soft rock guitar solos, with equally frazzling results. So in short Welcome to Mikrosector 50 is rather excellent, with the only real dud on the album being the slightly tedious 70s porno-funk of 'Quadraskank Interlude'.

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