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Cerberus Shoal - The Ducks and Drakes of Guapo and Cerberus Shoal CD (album) cover


Cerberus Shoal



1.83 | 11 ratings

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1 stars This is the third of four in the Cerberus Shoal North East Indie “split CD” series, a set of discs where Cerberus Shoal combine in various ways with like-minded and/or stylishly constrasting bands to produce – well, sometimes something profound, and sometimes just audible annoyance. This time it’s the latter.

Guapo are the closest in style to Cerberus Shoal of the four bands who paired with them on this series. The others – Alvarius B (Sun City Girls), Herman DŁne, and the Magic Carpathians all contrasted with Shoal in one form or another, particularly DŁne who seem to have managed to even influence the Cerberus Shoal offerings on their CD. Guapo do as well, sort of. Both are avant bands who are difficult to classify, and both wander aimlessly at times into post-rock territory without any evidence of real commitment to the form. And in the end that turns out to be the undoing of both bands on this album. In a nutshell this is fifty minutes or so of post-rock electronic tension with slowly building and complex rhythms that threaten to explode into cacophony at any time.

But they don’t – ever. I suppose the two band’s abilities to create anxiety in the listener without ever providing release could be construed as some kind of artistic genius, much the same as performance art of someone pissing on a statue of the Virgin Mary is supposed to harness anger into social commentary and inspire contemplation on the part of the viewer. But in both cases that isn’t what usually happens; the art fails to achieve its goal and instead leaves most observers frustrated and even a little irritated. And that’s not artistic or clever, it’s just annoying.

Guapo lead off with their long and slowly un-building “Idios Kosmos”, a mostly electronic and digital instrumental that leaves me absolutely cold, but in an uninspired way, not one where the music somehow inspired those chills. It’s just boring, nothing more.

Following that Cerberus Shoal offer up an equally lengthy track (“A Man who Loved Holes”). I’ve no idea what either the title or the lyrics and spoken-word sections mean, but that’s no big deal because the same can be said of almost all Cerberus Shoal music. And for the most part I love their albums and the way they continually reinvent themselves and explore all sorts of musical innovations, so the weird lyrics don’t detract at all. The digitized spoken- word parts do though. This is a trait of Shoal music that surfaces quite often on their other records, and never really clicks on any of them. Like the Guapo track, my main complaint with this one is that it never actually gets to where it appears to be going, wandering aimlessly instead until it simply peters out after more than sixteen minutes.

The final song “Kdios Iiosmos, He Two Loved Holes” is, as the title suggests, sort of a melding of the first two, with members of both bands contributing. Plenty more digital drone and slowly-forming soundscapes here as well, more in the Guapo vein then that of Shoal it seems. In the middle there’s a bit of a tense whiny keyboard-and-drone section where I think the album is finally going to reveal something spectacular, but right about the time I start to lick my lips in anticipation it’s gone, and the programmed Hal-2000 mood music takes over once again. Several minutes later the song just fades away altogether.

I love this band and usually appreciate their experimental side; sometimes that backfires though, and this is one of those times. Frankly I haven’t gotten into any of the four split-CD series records, but of the four this one is the least interesting. In fact, as much as it pains me I have to acknowledge that there really isn’t anything redeeming I can find in the entire recording, and so I’ve really no choice but to note it rates no more than one star, and isn’t something I’d recommend to anyone. Sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Don’t let this one aberration deter you from either Guapo or Cerberus Shoal’s other CDs though; most of the two band’s respective discographies are well worth exploring. Just skip this one.


ClemofNazareth | 1/5 |


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