When the first track of Gone West, "Incantation," stars things off I couldn't help but wonder if all the western parallels were merely a joke, since I didn't hear a spec of desert dust, an ounce of lead, a drop of whiskey or a single tumbleweed blowing in the wind. Instead, a chorus of soft, childlike hums are draped over warm soundscapes that remind me of DVOA's "How Hollow Heart." Ah, but this is merely the introduction. Enter "All-Star Western," and it becomes clear that John Sellekaers, C-drik and a handful of collaborators (including Silk Saw) have indeed Gone West. Deeply infectious, the track blends a great rusty, bluesy sounding slide guitar loop with mellow, smooth drum 'n bass grooves, replete with subtle samples of naying horses.
The seven minute "Jigsaw Motel" shifts into more of an ambient soundtrack mode, as if setting the stage for a heroic shoot-out. It's surreal and a little ominous, with a stoic sound emanating from the manipulated instrumentation. "Dreamland's Burning" brings back the beats and slide-guitar, a truly great combination, to create a track that feels like it really typifies what they're aiming to accomplish with this project. Slowly strummed electric guitar, the perfect amount of backing piano keys... I hate to hear this one end.
The more structured, rhythmic, guitar laced pieces stand out simply because they're so catchy, but the atmospheric, ambient tracks they alternate with are equally alluring in their own subtle way. Dead Hollywood Stars is a testament to these musician's musical diversity and playfulness... as if they needed one.