Travis Keats Ross is a journalist, writer and host of the occult/art podcast PRAGMAGICK. He composes and releases music as DAKOTA SLIM, REVEL ROSZ, and SPARE SPELLS. He is ordained as REVELATOR to the "open-source art religion" WE, THE HALLOWED in Portland, OR.
KATEY TRNKA of VORTEX wrote a nice little piece to accompany the premiere, you can read it all HERE:
Ford’s talent for hand animation is evident in the video for “Night Thief,” a cut off Dakota Slim’s July release, Cactus Crown. The meticulous nature of hand-drawn animation is amplified here by how well the visuals line up with the music. As a saxophone wells up, flashes of otherworldly light dot a mountainous landscape; one of these flashes eventually takes a lasting form to destroy the forest in the foreground. Against soft, spooky vocals, orbs descend to the earth and take the forms of predator and prey. Staticky percussion punctuates changes in color and form, and just as a canine creature is about to overtake a rabbitlike animal, their forms are all but obliterated as the lyrics come to a close.
Sär over at CVLTNATION gave CACTUS CROWN a glowing, track-by-track review titled “HEAR HOW COUNTRY GOTH LIVES ON IN DAKOTA SLIM”…
…The best way I can describe it is a creepy, worldly trip-hop song with ghostly vocals, but there’s so much more to it than that. My favorite is the wild saxophone noise reminiscent of The Birthday Party. “Wylin’” has a more obvious spaghetti western influence, dirge-y and acoustic in tone…
Gabriel Hart, writer and frontman of the notorious Jail Weddings, shared some amazing prose on the latest DAKOTA SLIM album, “CACTUS CROWN.” The full review follows:
DAKOTA SLIM “CACTUS CROWN”
Imagine you’re in a record store. They’re hip enough to have an exotica section. “I like exotica,” you think to yourself… until you remember that every time you bring home one of those cool looking Arthur Lyman or Martin Denny records with the volcanoes and stormy skies and naked chicks and tiki-masked headhunters, it sounds more like something you’d hear waiting in line at Disneyland than anything remotely bona-fide savage, right?
Crickets? Give me a fucking break.
Now, imagine you bring home one of those records and it sounds exactly like the evocative cover suggests, only it also takes you deeper inland, away from the shores, where the true shadows are cast, where nothing gets in the way of the moon and silence of boot-quaking anticipation is the most notorious indigenous battle-cry until you hear the sound of…
CACTUS CROWN. An authentic American-Spaghetti Western Occult album many before Dakota Slim have tried to make yet failed because they chose the paint-by-numbers, spell-it-out-for-idiots approach instead of seeping themselves in the true subconscious that is churned and plumed from such a lust for archaic divinities. See, when you choose the former route, your destiny is a sad conduit for shoulder-shrugging idiocy rather than the reaping rewards of pure abandon, where Dakota Slim’s sense of adventure doesn’t forget to forge into his inner frontiers to whisper softly as a stalker to his prey what he has found, so long as we refrain from screaming.
Conceived during the eclipse of August 2017, Travis Keats Ross (AKA Dakota Slim), Cactus Crown began as a mere documentation of rituals he was performing around the veiling of our moon, which resulted in psychic Cupid-arrows simultaneously piercing two hearts, one of course belonging to Mr. Ross. The term “future-primitive” might apply to this unique album, as DS has managed to deploy electronics to antiquity BUT ONLY to capture an array of organic field recordings so he can play them all together like a tactile instrument. He masterfully alternates Devil-notes with more melodic cascades on his Flamenco guitar, drunkenly leading the way by candlelight, but it’s a flame that will have to be re-lit constantly through this chilling, windswept walkabout.
Euphorically disorienting pans of no-wave saxophone and mimicking organ make the path that much harder to pin on the album’s initiation “Night Thief.” The languid gallop of “Wasted Bones” slow pans across a desolate landscape, whilewrithing with nervous, toe-tapping anticipation. “The Tether” encapsulates the axis of the album’s lover ritual theme, while “Disolva y Coagula” finally brings Keats’ fairer half to the surface, a twisting, turning, oozing duet with Mary Antoinette McKeever(Moon Division), possibly the most primal offering to this altar. And for all the dark, shape-shifting features on the record, it also brings good news: Nowhere on this album will you hear any default overdriven guitar twang to get the point across, thank God!
Even beyond Keats Ross being a well-researched authority on the occult, what makes this project the product of truly hidden wisdom is the fact that this is his TENTH record, which he scoffs at any industry-pressure trappings. “It’s a culmination and complete obliteration of all the albums I’ve done,” he says, confirming this journey is just the beginning…
Small samples of “Yégènèt Muziqa” by Getatchew Mekurya appear on Track 1 and Track 7.
Sample of Alan Moore on Magick at the end of Track 5
Sample of William S. Burroughs on writing and author Henry Miller at the end of Track 6
Special Thanks to Mary, Santa Muerte, Barry Wood, Logan Ford & Rachel Sides, Bran Hernandez, Chris Shumaker, Noah Pfarr, Joel Hatmaker, SPARE SPELLS, Jimbo Kennedy, Iohannes Pontes & Simon Sotelo, Anthony Alvarado, The Ross’, The Keats’, The Weinsteins, The Smith’s and all who stood by, supported and shared love and materials through these turbulent eclipses. You are adored.
Stay tuned for CACTUS CROWN’s (long, long awaited) final release date, single premiers, linear notes, videos and more via www.dakotaslim.net or follow on instagram @dakotaslim_hymns for a recent collection of the many CACTUS CROWN announcement videos.
Saturday, June 30th will see Slim (Revel Rosz) join Gabriel Hart of Jail Weddings and Amie Althaea read an excerpt from his in-progress collection of metaphysical dalliances that inspired CACTUS CROWN and SPARE SPELLS’ album/comic THE NARROWS at MOTHER FOUCALT’s Bookstore in Portland, OREGON. 7PM.
CACTUS CROWN is proving to be one bombastic little record. I know the release date keeps pushing back – a late JUNE release is not only perfect considering the person the record is essentially about (nicknamed JUNE), but also seems to be the perfect culmination of this last year’s ramshackle mysticism through dour tundras and radiant orbits. With that in mind, above’s a new song from CACTUS CROWN, “THE TETHER” – a track that perfectly sums up the haunted whimsy of the love and magick I exude for June and for Santa Muerte… Oh yeah, the instrumental version is also the theme of my arts and occult podcast…
The following interview with ANTHONY ALVARADO was recorded as part of “Wayward Worship” – live discussions and performances at W†H‘s Monthly Salons that would become The PRAGMAGICK Cast recorded/produced October 2017.
This disembodied voice ringing between your ears is I, Revel Rosz and you’re listening to PRAGMAGICK, an educational program curated by Portland, Oregon’s Art-Religion WE THE HALLOWED…
This cast, as with future casts, was recorded live in front of a swarm of naysayers, ne’er-do-wells and all around rogues at the Waypost in Portland, Oregon – before Samhain and Dia Los Muertos – when the veil was the thinnest and the wicked and the weird frolicked among the candy colored leaves, when La Nina Blanca tickled the napes of our necks with her cold, Santa Muerte breath, on October 26th, year of the witch, 2017.
Anthony Alvarado is not only a psychonaut, podcaster and musician but also pragmatic author of the pragmatic magic manual DIY MAGIC.
Dakota Slim had originally planned to release the new long-form E.P. CACTUS CROWN on Valentine’s day 2017 – alas, this was a premature ambition as we are in the rites of spring and I am not yet finished with the unexpected lil’ opus.
The tracks, originally composed post-Halloween 2017 with a crippled hand on a three string guitar, were intended to be sparsely orchestrated and seldom accompanied – an acoustic testament of solemn hymnals of sorts… again, alas, here I am deep into post-production and the monster I am incubating became another ramshackle, bedroom opus akin to the 2007 release, HITHERTO THE AMINALS. An unexpected return to the solo sonic-lust of original sample-led rhythmic sequences, experimental analog tracking and bombastic orchestration has indeed engulfed CACTUS CROWN and though this grew to be quite the project, I am happy for it’s obsessive evolution.
Slinking out of the throws of a cosmic inner shift that left me one handed and solemnly solitary in the beginning months of this year, I rekindled my love for solo production and all it throws. After the years-long conceptually ambitious collaborative effort of my band, SPARE SPELLS, in the midst of recalibration whilst inching towards the completion of last year’s conceptual epic, THE NARROWS‘, accompanying comic book (see below), the specter of Dakota Slim rose to exorcise new material, now deft and deliberate and headstrong into a new era.
While I take my time to round out CACTUS CROWN and ready it for imminent release (for sure this April), you can taste the southwest soaked cacophonous cornucopia of sonic manifestations that will riddle the album’s maddening production:
From the Ethiopian-jazz inflected haunt of CC’s opener, NIGHT THIEF,
to the sparse and live-tracked psychic ballad, WEIGHTLESS,
CACTUS CROWN is sure to be fine culmination of Dakota Slim’s years of experimentation in self-produced hymnals. A journalistic document of the moon cycles between Halloween and Spring – a feverish snapshot of the end of a partnership, the fervor and beauty of a new love and the narrative of a man trying to make sense of the contradictory extremes that riddled him.
In any case, keep your hearts crossed and your eyes peeled – the tenth (?) release from my perennial sonic identity (15 years old!) is sure to usher DAKOTA SLIM back into the fold from a silent, scheming, somnambulant saunter.