Cigar Cigarette, which is the solo project of producer, sound engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris McLaughlin, is set to release his upcoming EP Cigar Cigar Cigar Cigarette. The debut album is an industrial-tinged alternative soundscape guided by anxious, apocalyptic mystique as much as it is by McLaughlin’s wide-spanning ear and expansive vision. Boasting ten years of production work ranging from Kanye West and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver to Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes’ machinegum collective and a recent Neon Indian remix, McLaughlin’s album is a strange and stirring collection of songs that calls to mind The Smiths and The Virgins if they played on the ashes of a fallen city. Today the latest single coming off the album has dropped, “Video Age.” Deeply rooted with guitar distortion, the single also offers echoing vocals and ominous keys.
“‘Video Age’ is a “love” song to extractive capitalism, social media and their success at distorting our reality,” says McLaughlin. “Whether we all merge with machines in the future or end up destroying the planet and fighting with sticks and stones, I imagine people looking back at this time as the era of the screen. Video Age is about surveying our current period from the next one and recognizing how our reality became fuzzy, distorted and warped.
I wrote Video Age a long time ago, but it’s surprising because now many of us find ourselves truly living most of our lives via video. We’ve moved into the hazy and distorted world of video conference weddings and funerals. We might shower and get dressed up in the real world, but it’s for a job interview or taco date night on
Cigar Cigar Cigar Cigarette is swarmed with anxiety and urgency. One listen to debut single “Hard Five,” written pre-election in the wake of a friend’s funeral, calls to mind both a hot summer day pounding the pavement in New York City and the nervous jitters of a world mid-collapse. McLaughlin’s project may serve as a respite amid the chaos, but his ethos remains generous as his production work, rooted in aiding and uplifting the voices of other musicians and participating actively in the fight against the oppressive forces at hand, including taking part in a compilation put out by Roug Trade in support of the Black Visions Collective.