- Jack Hamill has been preparing his feature presentation for years now. Since first appearing in 2009, the Belfast producer's universe has unfolded slowly—it's only after four years and a full-length preview that we finally get to hear his debut album. The good news? Welcome to Mikrosector-50 is every bit the considered creation we could hope for after such a long gestation period. The other news? It really takes its radio drama concept to heart. Packed with spoken-word dialogue and vocal pop, it's a brave step away from the breezy space jams of his past releases.
The album's intro spells it all out: two instrumental pieces lead into the short "Mr 8040's Introduction," where we meet our protagonist (impressively voiced by Hamill himself) who raps in an intentionally cheesy late '80s style. Long story short, Welcome to Mikrosector-50 weaves the tale of Mr. 8040's hazardous journey back to his home planet. This involves time travel, heartbreak and illicit drugs, all spelled out over terse passages of dialogue and rigid robo-funk.
As with past releases, Hamill seamlessly synthesizes Detroit electro and the slick melodrama of late '70s prog in the vein of Alan Parsons Project into the template of early '80s minimal funk—not an easy equation by anyone's measure. For Hamill, it's very natural. Some parts, like the Prince & The Revolution jam of the title track or Harnessed The Storm-era Drexciya on "Rising," bear the mark of Hamill's influences, but are never quite dominated by them. His apparent nostalgia is so inextricably linked with his concept that one couldn't really exist without the other.
Which leads us to our other point: the vocals. While distracting at first, they're not as prominent as they seem—for example, the depressive bellows of "When Your Love Feels Like it's Fading" soon give way to four minutes of handsome synth and guitar interplay. It's the conversational interludes that end up dampening the record, a bit like less-effective rap album skits. They're funny, but after a few listens they become obstacles between you and the music.
Ambitious and homespun all at once, Welcome to Mikrosector-50 is like diving into the overgrown imagination of a young child. The difference is that Hamill actually has the chops to reproduce his world with all the splendour he sees in his head. As with any self-conscious B movie, you'll laugh and you'll cringe, but you'll be entertained.
01. Feature Presentation
02. 2357 A.D.
03. Mr. 8040's Introduction
04. Welcome To Mikrosector-50
05. Confusion On The Armament Moon
06. When Your Love Feels Like It's Fading
07. A Lonely Flight To EroDru-10
08. You Can't Have My Love
10. Quadraskank Interlude
11. The Love Quadrant
12. Back Through Time With A Mission Of Groove
13. Closing Titles