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Cerberus Shoal - An Ongoing Ding CD (album) cover

AN ONGOING DING

Cerberus Shoal

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.69 | 4 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kifo
3 stars It's been a while since Cerberus Shoal announced that they would be releasing a new album, and after a long wait, it's finally out!

According the their blog, the music on this album was composed as a soundtrack/musical theatre performance for a venue called "The Stillhouse Theatre", which was performed there around the middle of 2003. The music is in some sense a detached extension/experimentation based on the track "Ding" from the Alvarius B split. After a 7 year lock-away, the music has been somewhat extended, re-recorded in the studio, and split up to form An Ongoing Ding.

People familiar with Cerberus Shoal will know that they have released soundtrack music before, in the form of Elements of Structure/Permanence. The difference between these two releases lies in the feeling of Elements being released just for the sake of a showcase/why not?, and An Ongoing Ding being released because the band felt it should be released properly, having faith in the compositions. A quick listen will show just how much the two releases actually differ.

An Ongoing Ding is, for better or worse, highly coherent and focused. This material was written around the same time as the Land We All Believe In music. Like Land, the music here shows the same "Proof of Evolution" quality that Land did. Long gone are the 8 minute aimless noodlings and extended instrumental explorations of their past, replaced by a somewhat sobering sense of musical vision.

Listening to this album, I can't help but get the feeling that this is the last Cerberus Shoal we're going to see for a long while, if not the last we'll ever see. While the music here is undoubtedly Shoals', I get the feeling that they treated this material, and its release, differently than their other albums. This music is highly produced, and packed with so much direction that it almost entirely lacks the 'breathing room' that made other releases so enjoyable. The pop-bound-progression seems to be even more evident here than on Land, resulting in a listenable and almost accessible experience that, despite being completely welcome and enjoyable, leaves me missing the old releases even more.

The music here is perhaps as close to the side-project Fire on Fire as it is to Cerberus Shoal, featuring extensive vocals and almost exclusively acoustic instrumentation. Further listening may prove me wrong, but I'm leaning towards classifying this as a 'lesser' Cerberus release, as I had Elements of Permanence. No one could say that the musical ideas here aren't fully developed, and wonderfully executed, but it strays a little too far from the vision of Shoal that I enjoyed so much, and leaves me thinking that this release may have lost something without it's on-stage presentation and one-time intimacy.

Any CS fan will probably agree that ANY release of new material is very much welcome and anticipated, but my advice here would be not to get your hopes up too high. Perhaps a hallmark of enjoying any CS release is to appreciate it more for what it is rather than what it accomplishes, and that guideline works especially well here. This album, despite being on the less-than-notable side of their discography, is very much in line with their evolution to date, and well worth a listen from any CS fan, although I doubt it will leave anyone inexperienced with their catalog a feeling that they "got it".

3 stars. This album is enjoyable, pleasant, and refreshing, even if it's not what I dreamt of a new CS chapter being, its far better than nothing.

kifo | 3/5 |

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