Back in May, Mac McCaughan released Non-Believers, his first record under his own name. Dominated by cold synthesizers and crisp drum machines, it’s a semi-autobiographical album that’s pretty far removed from Superchunk’s sugar-rush indie rock as can be. Yesterday, McCaughan issued
Staring At Your Hologram, in which the Merge co-head honcho revises and deconstructs
Non-Believers into an album-length instrumental remix.
“If the most obvious influences on
Non-Believers are bands like New Order or the Cocteau Twins, then for this version of the album I was drawing on a different part of the ’80s landscape and trying to imagine what it would sound like if Arthur Russell or Cluster made an album by remixing the basic tracks,” McCaughan notes.
For the most part, the drums and vocals have been scrubbed, and sections of some songs have been rearranged to bring once-buried textures to the front of the mix. Generous amounts of tape echo and reverb have been applied.
Hologram is a pale and placid reflection of its source material, but bits and pieces of the individual songs are still recognizable: the undulating sawtooth synth lick that flows throughout the chorus of “Box Batteries,” the distant and lonely faux flute that carries the melody of “Lost Again,” the gorgeously warbly textures of “Real Darkness.” It is, as the best ambient music is, as ignorable as it is interesting.
Staring at Your Hologram in a limited vinyl pressing—each of the 500 translucent yellow vinyl copies will be hand-numbered by McCaughan—January 29, but you can listen to and purchase it now via Bandcamp. It’s also streaming below.
McCaughan plays solo at Motorco on Dec. 4
, and with his Non-Believers backing band (aka Flesh Wounds) at Nightlight on Dec. 11