WELCOME TO MIKROSECTOR-50
Jack Hamill’s first solo release The Love Quadrant immediately realised a seemingly fully-formed musical world of deep house formulas, 80s electro-funk panache and sci-fi imagery. Since then, a grandiose statement of a debut album has seemed inevitable. And although the anticipation was reinforced by last year’s Pathway to Tiraquon 6 teaser EP, nothing really could have prepared us for Welcome To Mikrosector-50.
This tongue-in-cheek concept album is everything which SDC’s most ardent fans could have hoped for. Welcome To Mikrosector-50 throbs with ideas, and could be compared to Parliament’s seminal Motor Booty Affair in the sense that it’s so much more than just a cohesive collection of tracks, it creates a gloriously psychedelic landscape of its own. Where George Clinton’s band created an aquatic, funk-venerating party-civilisation on the seabed, Hamill creates a B-movie-inspired sci-fi odyssey, combining a pastiche of the techno-capitalist futures of Blade Runner and The Fifth Element with 80s movie and computer game soundtracks, and a majestic blend of sleazily gyrating electrofunk and astrally conscious Detroitism.
It’s an incredibly cinematic album which opens with a Feature Presentation, and its tracks segue into each other with radio commercials, space-mediated FM hiss, and the trashy narration of the picaresque journey from our fantastic protagonist Max Tiraquon, or Mr 8040. All this would be mere fluff if the actual quality of the tracks didn’t stand up to the enormous quantity of imagined narrative material, but the tunes are blinding. However, only a joyless spoilsport would even attempt to separate the two.
Observe, as you join Tiraquon on A Lonely Flight to EroDru-10, the weighty chunks of analogue bass and space junk drifting past the spacecraft windows through nebulous arpeggiation, before the pilot’s landing request is accepted, and we hear him pass into a glamorous interstellar cocktail bar. This scene/song, You Can’t Have My Love, is a catchy mix of Aphex Twin and Warren G, all blurred and beautiful machine synths with sultry cyborg choruses, while in verses Mr 8040 – a professional space dimension controller – talks you through a racy encounter. Through the last section of the song, a dejected Max Tiraquon is accosted by a shady extraterrestrial nightclub manager, who coerces the playboy astronaut into taking a chemically-enhanced visit to his establishment. His apparent immersion in the dancefloor is soundtracked by Rising, a warm, early-90s-styled acid techno cut that bangs into the mix with trancey pleasure. We won’t ruin the story any more, but know that the following scene is raunchy.
Hamill has done something amazing here. This is a brilliantly realised space oddity, soaked with images and colours from the last few decades of culture.
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Words: Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff