Before I first met Jack Hamill, just about a year ago now, my initial thoughts were that whatever conversation we would, or would not have, would not be so much about DJ'ing, but either, the conquest of the great regions of outer space, or scoring the next installment of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica (or whichever came first). Based on what little knowledge of his music I had then, coupled with my yearning to discover much more after repeated listens, one would not blame me if I thought that the conquest of space was 'up there' on his bucket list, and that at some point, he would do it too.
Needless to say, the conversation over dinner at Kinki never went that far, but touched upon his love for disco and funk; music that I grew up with and music which still inspires me to this very day. Listening to Jack tear through sinew after sinew of raw-edged cosmic funk and disco for most of his set that night was a real treat as well. And, with a philosophy of “If it ain't spacey, it ain't sexy”, it's easy to understand why, and which, to some very large extent, listening to this album, and make no mistake it's been a long time coming and discussed, is just as much a treat to me.
The entire album was conceived and concocted in his bedroom in his hometown of Belfast. If anything, the prequel (of sorts) to this; 'The Pathway to Tiraquon6', also released on R&S in 2011, has set the tone for Mr. 8040's long, wild and epic adventure into the constellation of Galactic funk. His vision here, I believe, inseminated itself within his mind a long time before this, in a galaxy too far away for some to ever reach. Before you press (or click) the play button, a gentle word of advice: listen to as many P-Funk, Zapp, Funkedelic and Parliament records as you can to draw a general idea of where most of the inspiration for Welcome To Mikrosector-50 came from (watch a little Star Trek too while you're at it). Then take your time to enjoy the music, and the trip.
Also be warned that the introduction to the album, or what you may think to be the introduction, unlike many others that you may have heard, is not a dreamy, ambient, spaced-out one (those moments are saved for later), but a gut-edged, sinew-tearing, adrenaline-infused no holds barred funked-up workout that would make George Clinton or even Prince sit up and nod their head in approval. And having heard Prince's most recent work, I think he needs to take a leaf off this book.
Having got your attention for those initial mad 5 minutes or so, it now winds down with 'While I was Away' and begins Jack's story on his conquest of space. Funnily enough, this one takes me back to last December in the Maldives and a something I would've played lovingly enough to complement one of those magical sunsets there. This might be perfect for a Mars sunset though, I think.
Anyway, back to 2357 AD. 'It's a Cold Planet Without You' is a spoken word ode, to whom, I'm not entirely sure, but it keeps the funk flowing in its drum and bass leanings and highlights Jack's eccentric vision and his ability to build and weave between the elements effortlessly and vividly. 'Music For Spaceports' and 'Feature Presentation' punctuate the album as commas or semi-colons to the story but aren't to be mistaken for fillers in any way. Consider them detours through countless asteroid belts on his journey through the constellations. It's nothing strange though (if you've listened to those old Parliament and P-Funk records as I had mentioned earlier) to find another 'introduction' lying deep within, what already seems to be, the mid-section of this engaging story. As the narrative continues through this in street rhyme, the rap introduces you to the elusive Mr.8040 and his mission statement and final destination, and if you thought that this was the middle, as I did initially, it's actually where the action really begins…
Next, another mad slab of funk (on the album's title track) followed by the dark cosmic exuberance of 'Confusion Armament Moon' before dropping the hyper-drive to experience more galactic beauty with 'When Your Love Feels It's Fading'. A hint of Van Halen or Iron Maiden here perhaps with a cracking guitar solo (yes, guitar solo) here at the end before a stray Moog whisks it into conclusion and we're off to explore the further reaches of space once again. The cosmos never looked so good and the soundtrack of the dreamy Balearic-esque 'Lonely Flight' and the excellent cosmic disco leanings of 'You Can't Have My Love', just help to accentuate that breathless feeling of standing on Saturn's Ring and staring at endless blankets of stars before 'Rising' back into hyper-space again.
The final leg of Mr. 8040 transports you gently into the 'Love Quadrant' and takes you back through time once more before it's 'Closing Titles' overwhelm you and leave you saying "hang on", and asking yourself, "Was in really on a journey through the darkest, most outer-reaches of space? Or was I in some sort of time portal with a soundtrack so surreal that it actually seemed that I was... physically, transported... somewhere (and where are my clothes?)"?
I think, it is pointless to ask too many questions really. Just let your imagination run completely rampant as you listen to this. For Jack Hamill aka Mr.8040 aka Space Dimension Controller has not only managed to control space, but somewhat, conquer it, or at least begin to. And while on his quest to do so, and return to his home planet of Microsector-50, has managed to write a storybook and a soundtrack to it that could very well be Star Trek re-visited, beyond the 24th Century, only a hell of a lot more funked up. Honestly, you don't have to be a sci-fi buff to fully enjoy this, that's really the magic of this album really. Just open your mind to your most vivid sense of imagination and allow yourself the time to enjoy the narratives on this -- it helps in your greater understanding of Jack Hamill's work and mind. It’s the sum of his musical influences distilled into 68 minutes of unalloyed electronic pleasure. My only criticism would be that I would've enjoyed a longer stretch of the journey through hyperspace, but, hell, what do I know about flying a space craft anyway!
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