Of all the Verge staff, I'm probably the one least enamored with Star Wars. Honestly, I don't even know whether TIE fighters fight on the light or dark side. But that's why you should trust me when I say that the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack vinyl is absolutely wonderful. On the B sides of the two records are etched ingenious holograms that project the image of a TIE fighter on one and the Millennium Falcon on another.
Debuting in London's historic Abbey Road Studios today, the vinyl version of John Williams' soundtrack for The Force Awakens was shaping up to be quite the gimmick. Holograms are literally as old as the original Star Wars — older, even — and they've always been more fantasy than practical reality. So my expectations were grounded like a light freighter that's just negotiated a particularly harrowing chase through an asteroid belt (is that an apt analogy?). Anyway, the actual effect of the hologram blew me away. It's totally convincing, fooling the eye and making you want to reach out and touch the apparently floating ship above the record. It's cool, it's lovely, and it's just plain fun.
The pseudo-holograms are produced by carving micro-reflectors into the surface of the record to create the illusion of depth. That's all it is, just an illusion, but for all my jaded and cynical ways, I can't help feeling a sense of renewed wonder. All you need to make the magic happen is a spotlight of reasonable strength: any desk lamp or an LED light like your smartphone's flash will do. I messed around using my phone to alter, distort, and resize the hologram illusion, and that turned into a game in and of itself.
The best part about this two-record set is that it's not priced to exploit people's nostalgia or whimsy. At $50, it's a perfectly reasonable proposition for both collectors and casual fans of the epic film series. Or, like me, for anyone that just loves watching the hypnotic rotations of a spaceship seemingly hovering above a vinyl record.