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Cerberus Shoal - The Life and Times of The Magic Carpathians and Cerberus Shoal CD (album) cover


Cerberus Shoal


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2 stars This is the fourth and final installment in the North East Indie label’s ‘splits’, a series of CDs consisting of collaborations between Cerberus Shoal and other “similar” artists (‘similar’ being a rather vague term considering the wide range of music Shoal have recorded over the years). In this case the Shoal hooked up long-distance with the Magic Carpathian Project, a longstanding avant-garde electronica duo based in Poland. North East Indie unfortunately went under a couple years ago, so this and the other split series CDs aren’t all that easy to find anymore, but some of their CDs are still available on a website maintained under the label’s name and run by God knows who.

The story here is that members of Cerberus Shoal collaborated via mail and email with Anna Nacher and Marek Styczynski (the Magic Carpathians) to develop and eventually record these three songs (the other track “Pre-Face” is nothing more than an accompanied, spoken-word intro for the record). Several other musicians are listed as contributors from the Carpathians camp as well. Two of the three tracks are more than thirteen minutes each and consist of meandering and apparently somewhat improvised acoustic and electronic noodling sort of in the vein of many late-90s post-rock bands. “Continuumed” is also augmented with some of Caleb Mulkerin’s weird-folk, off-key vocals in his sometimes made-up language.

The third song (“J.B.E.G.S.”) is shorter and combines often barely-perceptible instrumentation and even less perceptible vocals, mixed occasionally with unintelligible vocals.

I’d like to say some good things about this record since I am a pretty big Cerberus Shoal fan, but frankly I haven’t been able to set through the CD too many times without becoming a little bored. The music is moody, semi-ambient post-rock with some faint Eastern instrumental influences and a Shoal’s stamp mostly courtesy of Mulkerin; that’s about it. By definition that makes this a collector’s item only, and so two stars are all that are warranted. If you’re a fan I suppose you’ll want this in your collection, but I wasn’t any more impressed with this one than I was with any of the other ‘split series’ CDs. Pick it up if you run across it though, as it is out-of-print, difficult to find and will undoubtedly make for a good trading piece for you if you ever run across a Cerberus Shoal fan who has something you want in exchange.


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Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink

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