Mention that Airhead is a close alumni of James Blake, and you’ll think there’s an instant recipe for success already laid bare. After the opening track, the unsteady, woolly and rock-bugged electronica of “Wait” looking to pebbledash folk textures with a spirit in dilapidation, you’re confident that you’ve got Rob McAndrews’ number. Neither scenarios are as home and hosed as that. Airhead puts his brains to dried trip hop, shoegaze and post-dubstep splinters that lead categorisers a merry (well, not quite) dance.
“Milkola Bottle,” for example, flits mischievously yet wears lead weights around its ankles, and “Pyramid Lakes” scissors through a dub/rave spin cycle to tie your headphones wires into an unfathomable knot, duly loosened by slim houser, the up to the minute “Fault Line.” “Azure Race” finds electro calm having tunnelled through the overcast, symptomatic of the album having a solid song structure with juts and overhangs interfering with its perpendiculars. With Airhead’s own admission of being a manipulator when it comes to emotional activation, “Autumn” is almost disconcertingly elfin despite being crowded out with sun-blocking slabs of beats.
All the while the full extent of electronica heads down blind alleys before slowly swivelling into coherency and what’s on-trend emerges from greyscale outlines, wading through drones of feedback to find a central sweet spot on sagging shoulders.
As it commandeers your stereo by way of a winking, semi-narrated creation of its own mythology slash travel brochure (the press release is a work of art), Welcome to Mikrosector-50 blinds you with its high Starfleet ranking. Its captain SDC spray-paints the opening scroll of Star Wars, while gorging on Total Recall and Demolition Man given some of the layovers of headset dialogue. However, the assignment settles as a varied, informed selection of electro, house and techno, nullifying the notion of Jack Hamill as just a jester using Saturn’s rings as a hula hoop.
The freaky-deakiness of sleaze-dipped, jumping jack funk nods to a certain pair of highly decorated Pubahs from the Motor City (“Mr. 8040’s Introduction,” the title track), warming up in becoming acquainted with the vessel’s controls, trailing serene stretches of the Milky Way with a bizarrely workable mix of cosmic disco and soft metal (“When Your Love Feels Like It’s Fading”). Fronted by a loverman whose raps, like a medallion swinging Zapp Brannigan, can never be taken seriously, the purring porn wah-wahs of “Quadraskank Interlude” prove that in outer space, no one can hear you knocking boots.
When game-time kicks in, roaming, Italo/Euro edged house, busy joystick-jerking acid (“Rising”), smooth grooving watching the world go by (“The Love Quadrant”) and chugging dub-disco beats, coordinate and validate Hamill’s flair, sense of humor and timing turning oddity into odyssey.
File under: Detroit Grand Pubahs, RL/VL, Jesse Boykins & Melo-X