Artists

Space Dimension Controller

Labels: R&S Records

Streaking through the ether at twice the speed of sound, Mr 8040 is on a date with destiny. He’s heading for Mikrosector-50, his home planet, but things are not going as smoothly as planned. En route he finds himself in sticky situations, cosmic encounters that trigger flashbacks to a different time and place. Will he ever make it home? And who – or what – is he running from?

This, more or less, is the narrative thrust of Jack Hamill’s debut album as Space Dimension Controller. Welcome to Mickrosektor-50 is a swashbuckling sci-fi odyssey that unfolds like some long-lost Star Wars episode scripted by Philip K Dick and scored by Tangerine Dream. The record is fantasy in its purest form: a futuristic Boy’s Own adventure concocted in a Belfast bedroom, it’s the sum of Jack’s musical influences distilled into 68 minutes of unalloyed electronic pleasure.

Like Funkadelic or Boards of Canada, Jack has created his own personal world of sound which he colours in vivid, often eccentric detail. He’s not the first person to take inspiration from Chicago house, 80s funk, sensual electronica and cybernetic disco, but the way he weaves the elements together suggests not so much a keen student as a romantic visionary. Breathtaking in scope and thrillingly executed, Welcome to Mickrosektor-50 is one of those remarkable albums you hear and then wonder why no one else has done anything quite like it before.

If you’ve been following Space Dimension Controller these few short years, you’ll know that Jack is a sweet-natured, slightly enigmatic figure who rarely gives interviews and would rather the music does the talking. At just 23, the Northern Irish producer is part of a new generation of young electronic pioneers – his peers include Jamie xx, Pearson Sound, Jackmaster and Ben UFO – who are shaping the future of dance music.

Space Dimension Controller first blipped fully-formed on to radars in 2009 with “The Love Quadrant”, an enchanting synth-funk lullaby that seemed to appear out of nowhere. This led to a groovier outing for Rotterdam’s Clone label the following year, “Journey to the Core of the Unknown Sphere”, and helped secure Jack a place on the Red Bull Music Academy’s London event, where he celebrated his 20th birthday. Signing to R&S, Jack then released two Space Dimension Controller EPs in two years, “Temporary Thrillz” and the 11-track “The Pathway to Tiranquon6” – a dazzling blend of Rick James, Dopplereffekt and Global Communications. These further fleshed out his intergalactic tale of accidental time-traveller Mr 8040, the Tiraquon Security Council and the deadly Pulsovians, but beyond that, listeners could detect a genuine talent at work whose kaleidoscopic range, deft touch and assured productions belied his young age.

After a quiet 2012 spent mostly in his studio, this debut album fully realises the Space Dimension Controller cinematic experience of galactic funk. He likes to record and make all the effects using analogue gear, which is why, he says, he takes ages to make tunes and explains the gap between releases. The first thing you notice is the emphasis on vocals and funk tracks compared to the earlier releases. It also sees Jack flexing his guitar and bass chops – he played all the instruments and provided the vocals. Before he committed to electronic music, Jack played lead guitar in a local metal band and he’s not afraid to let rip in places on Mikrosector-50. Towards the end of B-boy electro number “Mr 8040’s Introduction”, shades of a Van Halen power ballad soundtrack a Blade Runner-esque advert for “Mikrosector-50, mankind’s new home”, while he gently riffs over the pastel shimmer of “2357 AD”.

“I started making tunes on New Year’s Day, 2006,” Jack told the Quietus last year. “At first it was like ambient music, then IDM stuff, and then I got into Drexciya and 80s electro, and that’s how the whole thing formed. Space Dimension Controller started off as a side project from my ambient thing, and then it took over. Because no one likes to dance to ambient music.”

Jack took his stage name from one of the first pieces of equipment he bought, the Technics SH-8040 Space Dimension Controller, and admits that he can’t make a track unless there’s a good story behind it or it’s got a decent name. “I’m not one of those guys who goes in the studio, sits down and creates a project file called ‘March 2012, Track 1’,” he says. “I actually can’t get any inspiration unless the track’s got a good thing behind it. I always come up with the names first ¬– that’s where I get the vibe from.”

The force has always been strong with this one, and his astonishing, soulful voyage continues with Welcome to Mikrosector-50. Enjoy the trip – and it is a trip – because we have no idea when Mr 8040 is coming back.

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