If you follow the sci-fi saga outlined in the press materials, Space Dimension Controller is Mr. 8040, an inadvertent time traveller from the 24th century whose reality includes interplanetary warfare, alien invasions, and near-extinction for the human race. Back here on Earth, Space Dimension Controller is also the handle adopted by young Belfast producer Jack Hamill. Regardless of what timeline you choose to follow, recent years have seen a steady stream of cosmic tunes from Space Dimension Controller, songs powered by vintage synths, analog sounds, and a noticeably '80s electro-funk vibe. His latest musical dispatch is The Pathway to Tiraquon 6, an extended EP meant to serve as a prequel to the forthcoming Welcome to Mikrosector-50 LP.
With 11 songs and a runtime that exceeds 45 minutes, Pathway offers a whole lot more content than the average EP. When a record's backstory involves the human race searching for a new homeworld, the music had better sound cohesive, which Pathway certainly does, even as Space Dimension Controller delves into different styles, tempos, and sounds. While his past output has always displayed a cool-as-ice sensibility, this latest effort includes several moments of outright serenity, such as the synth-heavy and '70s-educational-film-reminiscent "2257 AD," the stark and ghostly "Floating Blind Through Blue Trails," the somber and birdsong-adorned "Last Sunset on Planet Earth," and the lightly chugging "Closing Titles." On the other end of the spectrum, the record does have its share of dancefloor-oriented productions, including the tense breakbeats of "Pulsovian Invasion," the dark, pounding techno of "Usurper," the acid-tinged future-funk of "Flight of the Escape Vessels," and the snappy, 808-driven "Triaquon's Return (A New Home)." Other selections are a bit more abstract, at times evoking the experimental spirit of late-'90s Warp. "Max Tiraquon" pairs floating synth melodies with kinetic, stop-and-start percussion, while "Confined to Deep Space" is an excerise in slow-motion techno psychedelia.
It's easy to label music as cinematic, but Pathway truly encapsulates the term. Space Dimension Controller has spun quite a tale to explain the story behind this record, and, as dense and out there as it might be, each track presented appears to have been specifically tailored to embody a small piece of the narrative. Like any good film, there are ups and downs, shifts in mood and tone, instances of drama and tension, and a solid through-line that holds the entire thing together. It's an ambitious undertaking, and one that could have easily been an overwrought mess, yet Space Dimension Controller has delivered a fine collection of impeccably produced tunes while also expanding his sound palette. One can only hope the excellence—and the weirdness—continues when Welcome to Mikrosector-50 drops sometime in 2012.