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Cerberus Shoal - Elements of Structure/Permanence CD (album) cover


Cerberus Shoal



3.47 | 17 ratings

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4 stars Rating: A-

Cerberus Shoal are one of the more enigmatic bands of late, always shifting styles and never sounding the same twice. From their excellent self-titled debut, where they created a bunch of Slint-inspired post-hardcore pieces to their final album, The Land We All Believe In (which is ostensibly freak folk), Cerberus Shoal always proved a fascinating band and a good listen. Their best album, however, of those I've heard (which is every studio release not counting splits or .And Farewell to Hightide), Elements of Structure/Permanence is by far the best.

It consists of only two pieces of music, both extended improvisations. Cerberus Shoal created these pieces for two separate films, and thus the action of the music is related to the action in the films, but this isn't evident just listening to the album. Both songs stand up in their own right. In fact, they do far more than that; they excel. They carry the listener through a variety of moods without ever getting boring. Even more surprisingly, they do this without ever really climaxing. Sure, there are times where the music builds in intensity (such as eleven minutes into "Permanence"), but there are no Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like explosions. And, frankly, the album doesn't need any.

Like many albums, Elements of Structure/Permanence is a grower. On the first few listens, it doesn't seem very interesting, because, looking just on the surface, it's not. However, as future listens reveal its subtleties and allow the listener to better grasp its mood, Elements of Structure/Permanence slowly grows until the one listen where it hits, and from there, it becomes a fantastic listen. Little touches such as the horns on "Permanence" (roughly sixteen minutes in or thereabouts) reveal their brilliance over time and make this such a fantastic album. It's best enjoyed in the dark on a good pair of headphones, but however you listen, it demands your full attention.

With Elements of Structure/Permanence, Cerberus Shoal created their masterpiece, an amazing album that could almost pass for post-rock, except that it embodies none of the clichés of the genre. Instead, it takes the listener through roughly an hour of fascinating musical landscapes. Their more recent freak folk albums may be their most accessible (in a very relative sense), but this is their best. Highly recommended.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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