Mac McCaughan, formerly of Superchunk, released his solo debut, Non-Believers, last year. Now he’s decided to rework the whole thing, taking the indie rock of the original into semi-ambient territory, with long sections of electronic drift and occasional Robert Fripp-esque guitar. A surprising and welcome move. 500 copies on translucent yellow vinyl.
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- NB001LP / Limited translucent yellow vinyl LP on Non Believers. Edition of 500 copies - hand-numbered by Mac McCaughan, Very limited and only a handful available!
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- Staring At Your Hologram by Mac McCaughan
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The mostly unwelcome ‘Non-Believers’ came only a bar of a tune after Superchunk’s delightfully scornful ‘I Hate Music’, and rustled none of the same feathers: where that record was pissed off by the passage of time and daring it to move faster with guitars in the shade of grunge, ‘Non-Believers’ saw frontman Mac McCaughan go quasi synth-pop, attempting to soundscape his pop-punk inclinations with little aplomb. Goodness knows what the thought process behind ‘Staring At Your Hologram’, a forty minute setpiece remix of that record, is, but it sees him travel further down a rabbit hole I’m not interested in falling into.
‘Staring At Your Hologram’ is arguably what ‘Have Fun With God’ is to Bill Callahan’s ‘Dream River. A sideways experiment on the same songs, it sees McCaughan go liquid ambient on his pop tunes, ‘til they’re quite thankfully unrecognisable. Passages are gorgeous, with nylon string guitars sweeping up a shimmering, beat-trodden drone, but at other points you can hear old guitar riffs just getting placated by processing. Moments see the influences McCaughan was working with on ‘Non-Believers’ become more lucid; he harkens back to Cocteau Twins, a reference well earned in the icy synth beams that come about in the fifteenth minute. At the same time, McCaughan’s approach to electronics sounds weirdly shrill: the sustained chords are sharp and unwieldy and much of the melody comes through at a tone of untenable squelch.
It’s not for me, frankly -- half the time it feels like listening to ‘80s indie rock from the bathtub, especially with those quietly throbbing beats and sparkly guitar tones in place. The melodic fractures remind me of Morton Subotnilk’s attempt at taming a modular and, you know, failing. At the same time, it’s nice to see Mac continue to go where he pleases. I just want more pop punk tunes from him, though. Sorry. Please.
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