All hollowed out

Ex-Zombie Season front man Ali Jaafar hits a creative stride with his new goth-pop project Hollow Boys.

Raghav Mehta

Who: Hollow Boys with Br’er

When: 8:30 p.m., tomorrow

Where: Kitty Cat Klub, 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

ItâÄôs a brisk Thursday night, and Ali Jaafar just wrapped up a set at the Hexagon bar with his new band, Hollow Boys. Jaafar, who once fronted the now-defunct gloom-punk outfit Zombie Season, is loquacious per usual. He speaks in a manner thatâÄôs at odds with the murky melodrama that tends to underpin all his musical creations. He is animated, vaguely cynical and most of all, he seems to be happy with his new project.

But while Hollow Boys rehashes some of the darker elements that characterized Zombie Season, Jaafar has ditched the post-punk shtick. Now heâÄôs just making music for himself.

âÄúI think with Zombie Season we got really up our own ass. We were really, really, really elitist,âÄù Jaafar said. âÄúIt didnâÄôt sound technical, but we wrote really out-there [expletive] I guess, and it got really boring. With Hollow Boys, I just want to make music that I want to make.âÄù

Recorded by Jaafar shortly following Zombie SeasonâÄôs dissolution, Hollow BoysâÄô debut EP âÄúI Want You to ForgetâÄù is a bleak mix of ethereal goth-pop that recalls the deep-layered production of âÄô70s hits like David BowieâÄôs âÄúHeroesâÄù and Brian EnoâÄôs âÄúHere Comes the Warm Jets.âÄù

These might seem like lofty comparisons, but the recordâÄôs sonically expansive aesthetic gives it a truly atmospheric quality. And in all its wall-of-sound glory, the record avoids burying its melodies beneath the thick sheets of sound.

It all results in something that sounds like the musical interpretation of a Bram Stoker novel as Jaafar bellows cryptic lines like âÄúYouâÄôre tired of the witches/youâÄôre tired of the same old haunts/youâÄôll go outside to find something new/A bar with a secret name/the patrons driving you insane/youâÄôd kill them all just to shut them up.âÄù

The songs are mostly autobiographical, but itâÄôs all camouflaged by JaafarâÄôs obscurely dark lyricism and gothic tropes.

âÄúI still write in a very indirect style, very veiled style. ThatâÄôs just me. I like weird language, but itâÄôs definitely stuff that happened,âÄù Jaafar said. âÄúI donâÄôt think it comes off as that pedestrian, but it definitely is that pedestrian.âÄù

The EP is available for download online and can be found on the bandâÄôs Tumblr page, set up by JaafarâÄôs girlfriend and Hollow Boys keyboardist Monical Coleslaw. Jaafar felt the service seemed like the ideal platform for volumes of material that heâÄôs yet to release.

âÄúI feel like what people want now is content âĦ and IâÄôve got hours of unreleased music,âÄù Jaafar said. âÄúIâÄôve got a hip-hop record; IâÄôve got some record mixed by some guy in Serbia unreleased. IâÄôve got all sorts of crazy [expletive] that no oneâÄôs ever heard. So I was like why not start a Tumblr and just start putting it out there, you know?âÄù