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


Cerberus Shoal



3.47 | 17 ratings

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3 stars Once again Cerberus Shoal delivers a studio album with a surprising stylistic turn. In the case of this, their third album, the band takes a cue from the likes of Joe Jackson’s late 80s faux classical releases ‘Will Power’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’; or maybe even some John Cage. Also like their other albums the band manages to sound both slightly dated and timeless simultaneously. That’s quite a trick by the way. There is some resemblance to the journeyman trio Group 87 here as well.

A strong argument could be made for this being their most artistically pristine and impressive album. The very tight melding of improvisational electronica, classical music and modern rock rhythms is nowhere as easy to accomplish as it sounds in a finished product. The group clearly spent quite a bit of rehearsal and production time in the studio before convincing themselves these two lengthy songs were ready for prime-time.

But at the same time I’m not as excited by the almost too-prefect, smooth jazz-like glossy sheen here. The band shows they can hang with the most accomplished ‘serious’ musicians of their day, but somehow for a Cerberus Shoal fan the absence of anything even remotely raw, experimental or occasionally in-your-face leaves a hole in the musical experience. This kind of reminds me of a couple projects former PiL Jah Wobble put out after he sobered up in the early nineties: musically adroit but lacking in body fluids or the tense expectation of an awkward explosion at the most inappropriate time. You know – the sort of thing that separates Chopin from Cobain.

To be fair these two songs were both written as film soundtracks, so the themes and, to a certain extent the moods, were somewhat dictated by the subject matter they were designed to accompany. Some consideration has to be made for this fact. But as a full- fledged Cerberus Shoal studio work I find the final product to be a bit lacking in light of my personally considerable expectations.

Given the technical outstanding delivery I can’t quite conscience giving the CD only two stars, but I also doubt very many progressive music aficionados will find this to be a very appealing album, unless maybe you find Phillip Glass or Robert Fripp’s solo stuff appealing. So I’m going to go with three stars, but with only a mild recommendation for those interested in the whole of the band’s body of work.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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