Dead Hollywood Stars :: Smoke and Mirrors EP (Hymen, CD)

1070 image 1 (07.13.05) John Sellekaers’ Dead Hollywood Stars project returns to dissolve the exotic and the surreal into the dusty ambience of the faded memory of the American West. The Smoke and Mirrors EP finds Sellekaers collaborating with Quentin de Hemptinne (guitars) and Alex Grousset (drums) for a stronger pop record feel as de Hemptinne’s slide guitar and Grousset’s drums anchor the songs. The six vignettes of the EP (for they have left behind the desert ambience of Gone West and
gone beyond the widescreen cinematic sense of Junctions) open doors into off-center stories of the Wild West, places more Westworld than Once Upon a Time in the West as Sellekaers’ deft placement of whispering electronics and buzzing
samples warps reality into a spectral place filled with ghosts and apparitions.

“The Night Country” spits us off onto the infinite horizon of the high desert where de Hemptinne’s slide guitar can echo forever while Grousset’s percussion rolls beneath us like a familiar horse.  Sellekaers sneaks back-masked voices, the snick-snick of sharp metal and the bee-like burr of white noise into the mix, alien sounds that nip at our heels as we roll across the empty desert as if the ghosts of an entire frontier town are dogging our trail. The psychotronic pop of “Nectar” where the slide guitar engages in a drunken dance with a band of wild trumpets is fueled by an excess of tequila and peyote.

“Tea with Mr. Yi” tries to put you at ease with the slow back-and-forth rhythm of Grousset’s brushes against his snare while
the guitar picks out a slumbering melody against a star pattern of cascading electronics but Sellekaers leaves enough holes in the melody for you to see beneath the indolent facade. Like everything in his twisted vision of the American West, there are strange elements at work beneath the surface. Tiny noises squirt and dart like bone fish in a sea of dust. Even as the rollicking percussion takes us for a spin along “Ocean Drive, 1984,” we can’t help but to keep looking over our shoulder, can’t stop looking for the source of the unease which continues to haunt us.

The Smoke and Mirrors EP is the Dead Hollywood Stars’most subversively accessible record yet: a veneer of the Ennio Morricone’s Old West stretched tight across an alien construct of Aberrant Americana. The West continues to haunt us, twisting in our psyche, and Sellekaers’ Dead Hollywood Stars continues to provide the soundtrack for our spectral dreaming.

The Smoke and Mirrors EP is out now on Hymen.


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