Six years ago, all the way back to 2013, things were different. Breaking Bad had just ended, the PS4 had just been released and the western world was losing its collective shit over whether Robin Thicke had indeed crossed the ‘Blurred Lines’ he sang of. However, 2013 also saw the release of Welcome To Mikrosector-50, the debut album of Space Dimension Controller aka Belfast’s Jack Hamil.
Conceptually framed as a radio drama, we were whisked alongside Mr 8040, voiced by Hamil himself, as he raced across a distant solar system to his home planet Mikrosector-50. For some that album was breathtaking in both scope and execution. A remarkable creation that redefined what an electronic music album could be. For others, it was preposterous fantasy, a trip worth taking but quickly forgotten.
Eight releases and six years later Mr 8040 is back. Finding himself in a world un-recognisable from those rose-tinted days of 2013. This time stranded at the edge of space after crash landing on astro bandit colony of PVLN, where his mission appears to be to discover if there really is Love Beyond The Intersect. Although, if you were expecting season 2 to be similar to the first, you may be disappointed. The robotic dialogue that drove the loose plot forward in Mikrosector-50 has all but been dispensed with, featuring only briefly in early tracks ‘PVLN’ and ‘Alone In An Unknown Sector’.
Instead the release has been accompanied with a short story, that depicts a hostile planet where the gravity is immense and reflective forests cause crippling hallucinations. Luckily, Mr 8040 doesn’t have to navigate this harsh landscape alone and is accompanied by native PVLN women who bestows a small piece of her life-force too him, eventually joining him on his spacecraft to venture forward into an unknown galaxy. Although before continuing this sci-fi odyssey, Mr 8040 has to confront an apparition conceived of static and noise, that can only be vanquished by letting go of all that came before the crash, both good and bad.
By leaving the plot-splaining to the story, Hamil allows himself room to concentrate on what is most important. Creating an immersive soundscape for the imagined world only he can bring from daydream to reality. The end product is bristling with drones, woozy melodies, electro beats, sensual pads and pulsating basslines. I could pick out specific tracks to highlight. ‘Intersect Encounter’ is a whining ambient masterclass. ‘Early Steps’ takes deep house brass interstellar. But, to do so would be missing the point, this is a concept album of the highest order, demanding to be listened to in full.
Hamill’s influences are clear, Chicago house, 80s & 70s funk, electronica, disco, rock (Hamill was once a guitarist for a local metal band). However, rather than succumb to the sheer magnitude of his influences he strikes a beautiful balance that feels familiar yet other worldly. It’s safe to say that Mr 8040’s most recent romp is a success of galactic proportions. Where he goes from here is hard to imagine, I just hope we don’t have to wait another six years until blast off.
Love Beyond the Intersect is out now.
Words: Jack Watson