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Record of the Week: Hologram - No Longer Human 12"

Hologram: No Longer Human 12” (Iron Lung Records) Hologram’s first EP from 2018 got a lot of play around here, so my expectations for No Longer Human were high. While the weight of expectation can color my first experience of a new record, No Longer Human is such a phenomenal release that this isn’t a problem. When I wrote about Hologram’s first EP, I noted they were one of the most progressive and forward-thinking projects in the hardcore scene, but this record goes beyond genre-bending and into mind-bending. It’s hardcore devoid of cliche, rebuilt from the ground up and taking the least obvious, more difficult route at every fork in the road. The rhythms, while blistering fast, reach well outside hardcore’s confines for inspiration. Critics would describe the morse-code guitar leads in “Bite the Smoke” or the insane mid-paced intro riff for “Deprivation Fantasy” as complex and inventive if a noise rock band executed them at a quarter the speed, but Hologram rips into them with the wild energy of Neos or Deep Wound. It’s not all herky-jerky rhythms, either. Album-closer “See a Pale Light” starts with a dense, creepy sounding melody that reminds me of Sonic Youth at their most sublime, but finds its way into a nasty mid-paced hardcore riff. For all their strengths, these mid-paced hardcore riffs might be where Hologram shines the brightest. The breakdown is possibly the most cliche-ridden aspect of hardcore, but on No Longer Human, Hologram approaches this convention with a freshness I wouldn’t have thought possible, warping classic hardcore through a fractured, acid-drenched prism. As on their EP, Hologram deploys synths and noise sounds too, sometimes on their own (as in “Untitled”) and sometimes combined with the full-on hardcore (such as on “Innate,” where synth whirring occupies the space where you might expect a guitar lead), and these parts are just as inventive and exciting as the music performed on the more conventional (for hardcore) instruments. If you like the forward-thinking hardcore that Iron Lung Records specializes in, No Longer Human should be at the top of your list of things to check out.

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