Switched On – Space Dimension Controller: Love Beyond The Intersect (R&S Records)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Love Beyond The Intersect is the second album from Belfast-based Space Dimension Controller, aka Jack Hamill. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Orange Melamine, which drew from old VHS tapes, this one has an analogue and organic feel to it.

For the storyline Hamill goes back further to the 2013 debut Welcome to Mikrosector-50, renewing an acquaintance with its protagonist Mr 8040. In a refreshing break with the norm, the entire press release sets out the story.

It tells that Mr 8040 has crash landed on a strange planet, following a ‘space dust and vecta grog fuelled burnout’, and he is looking to escape in any way he can. The album follows his trials, tribulations and encounters, which become more emotional than he probably anticipated, and resolves with a neat twist that wouldn’t have been obvious at the beginning.

What’s the music like?

Deep orange may have been the colour last time out, but this time it’s deep purple – in colour only mind, not musical style! If anything Love Beyond The Intersect does reflect that colour though, being dark but more spaced out than its predecessor. There is still a good deal going on musically, but Hammill pans out to take in the surroundings, using expansive textures to complement the close-up, dub inflected places to which the music goes.

These include PVLN, where fragments of deep spoken word can be quite unnerving, recalling some of the work of Jimmy Edgar. Voices Lost To Empty Space, which is quicker and quite minimal with a busy bass line, portrays our subject’s desire to get a move on. He comes to a halt in Intersect Encounter though, where the planet’s heavy atmosphere has a sluggish effect on our subject.

The funk quotient definitely increases as the album progresses, with Early Steps adding a bit of disco and Sundown On Memory Point tripping along nicely. Alone In An Unknown Sector is cool – with those deep vocals back again – and has a nice loping beat and fuzzy backdrop, capturing weird lights and vapour trails. It’s quite a delicate approach to funk that reveals more with each listen, capped nicely by the title track, which chugs along in slow disco fashion.

Does it all work?

Yes. It’s fun to be able to approach the music of Love Beyond The Intersect on two levels. The concept album, as vividly brought to life by Hamill, fires the imagination – or you can just enjoy the album as a well-planned series of excellent, atmospheric tracks that make a really satisfying whole.

There is a pleasing urban grit to Hamill’s approach, and a decent amount of funk too. Parallels with The Orb would be valid at this point, but with less bonkers humour and a more subtle, endearing approach.

Is it recommended?

Yes, because there is more to Love Beyond The Intersect than initially meets the ear. What is never in doubt is Hamill’s clever storytelling, imagination and subtle electronic flair.

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