The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Hologram is mapping out a new hardcore head space

The visceral and vivid D.C. band will headline Slash Run on May 13

Brendan Reichhardt of D.C. hardcore band Hologram. (Johnny Camacho)
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One reason Hologram’s “No Longer Human” feels like the most visceral hardcore album to drop from these dark pandemic skies: It reminds us that time ticks differently inside the privacy of our skulls.

This is profoundly lonely, hyper-percussive hardcore punk delivered at varying neural speeds, all of it composed and performed by one brain — D.C. vocalist-guitarist-bassist-drummer Brendan Reichhardt, formerly of Kombat and Closet Christ, among other groups — in what ultimately amounts to “my worst feelings manifested,” Reichhardt says. “I’m not trying to convey anything; I just have to get it out. ‘I have to yell about this right now.’ … It all feels very nebulous to me, so I just let it happen.”

As for “No Longer Human,” released last year, everything happened over a few days in the summer of 2020. “I definitely consider Hologram to be mostly rhythmic,” Reichhardt says. “Everything I write is based around the drums and the tempo changes” — which means he recorded the drums first, tracking them at a now-decommissioned practice spot on Blair Road NW where heaps of D.C. punk bands used to rehearse. After that came the guitars, the bass and some dabbling with a keyboard “that I didn’t really know how to work,” Reichhardt says. “Then I did the vocals at my parents’ house. I had my dad stand outside to make sure the neighbors didn’t alert the police.”

The results elicit a sensation of time collapsing with claustrophobic intimacy. But pay attention to the bands Reichhardt mentions in conversation and he’ll broaden the picture by connecting some diffuse dots from the outside world: the snow-blinding guitars of Sonic Youth, the zigzag rhythms of Mohinder and Usurp Synapse, the unknowable strangeness of Sun City Girls. As for the immersive, feral mood of Hologram’s music, it’s largely rooted in the most extreme hardcore of the ’80s, but delivered with a timbral nuance that might come “from someone’s inflection in a movie, or a video game I played as a kid,” he says.

And now, after wringing his mind out onto this exhilarating record, Reichhardt has tasked himself with mopping everything back up as he prepares to take a four-person version of Hologram out on a two-week U.S. tour. “It’s been so long since I’ve fronted [a band] and worked on Hologram stuff,” he says. “So much has changed over these past couple years — I was in a way darker place when I wrote that record. How do I tap into that feeling again?” Returning to that head space will be difficult, he says. Following him there won’t be.

Performing with Fashion Change, Asesinato and Demon Unit on May 13 at 9 p.m. at Slash Run, 201 Upshur St. NW. $12.