incantations verse one & two review

Posted on | June 1, 2009

a new review of the final dolmen albums incantations: verse one & verse two. dolmen has been an ethno-ambient side project of mine for the last eight years with cleveland based artist steven k. smith.

both of these discs are available for purchase both as download or tactile cd in my store. they are also available in all good digital retailers like itunes, emusic, amazon, rhapsody etc.

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…”this is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD. In fact, it’s more than that. It’s a disk I will absolutely insist you should not go without. Experience this music. Succumb to it.” – Hypnagogue

“I found out about Dolmen–the duo of Jason Sloan and Stephen Smith–late. Late as in this, their final album together. And now I need to go back and find everything they’ve done. Because the power and imagery that drives this two-disk set quite frankly stunned me. Too strong? Not at all. Incantations Verse: One and Verse: Two are built on dark, dense guitar-based drones and clashing, unapologetic noise paired up with aggressive tribal rhythms and longform drifts carved from shadow. These disks seethe with a sense of the ritualistic, an irresistible calling to a sensually dark and potentially dangerous place inside of ourselves. Mesmerizing, challenging and, in the end, compelling stuff that makes for one of the best offerings of the year. Disk one rises out the drum-and-static genesis of “Christ’s Burnt Monolith,” to immediately sets the listener on notice that this will not be a simple ride. “Calling Our Dead Ones Home” builds on the driving percussion that underlies much of the work here, a pulse that’s so integral that when the beat drops out, it’s like something’s been taken from you. That’s the kind of draw the disk has–this is music that hits you on a personal level because it’s connecting to some unspoken thing that you understand. “Exile from Purgatory” drifts by uneasily before hiding itself in dark noise. Feedback and rhtythm empower “Forgotten Ritual” as distorted vocal samples curl around the sound, demonstrating how well Sloan and Smith balance infectious rhythms and beats with storms of dense sound. Melodies struggle against the sound, aching to be known. It’s like hearing a secret message in the sound. “Signal Lights” is a short, comparatively calm respite of soft pads leading into the grimmer feel of “Colored Wound of Autumn.” In “Residual Haunting II” a rising beat and chanting vocal sample give way to the repeated muffled voice of a young girl. It’s like being witness to an arcane calling, and it’s hypnotic stuff. Verse: One ends with “A Past Life Reconstructed,” a 15-minute excursion where that beat-beneath-noise concept hits its stride, building itself in layers as Sloan’s guitar muscles its way forward, twisting itself around Smith’s airy swirls. And at the 8-minute mark, it just cuts loose with a sense of grim ecstasy–the culmination of the first incantation. And that’s just half of the ride…”

read the full review at: hypnagogue


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Jason Sloan is an electronic media and sound artist, musician, composer and professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.

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