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…
Gabriel Hart / July 2018