Cerberus Shoal – Crash My Moon Yacht

Cerberus Shoal
Crash My Moon Yacht

It amazes me what bands receive widespread recognition and acclaim, even in the indie world, and what bands don’t. Although I appreciate what he’s doing, I can’t get into Pedro The Lion’s music, for example, while everyone else seems to love his stuff. And then there are all the fantastic bands that have been releasing multiple albums and who never got acclaim. Cerberus Shoal definitely fall into that category with this, their fifth full-length album.
Possibly categorized as a cross between a post-rock and tribal band, Cerberus Shoal play primarily instrumentals, although the lyrics on the last few songs here are wonderful. These are not your typical, Tortoise-influenced post-rock songs, however. With a very light sound and the use of such diverse instruments as xylophone, whistles, banjo, saw, farfisa, zither, trumpet, flute, and more, in addition to guitar/bass/drums, this band is not your typical anything. Anyone who appreciates Peter Gabriel’s foray into tribal music on his Last Temptation of Christ album or Deep Forest’s attempt to bring ethnic music into modern American styles would appreciate Cerberus Shoal, but I think anyone who loves music for the feelings it can convey through depth and sheer talent will love this band.
Their latest full length starts off with “Changabang I” (it’s tough to name instrumentals, kids), a very light song that reminds me a bit of the theme music from Halloween, but just a bit. But it’s short, and the meat of the album kicks off with the 10-minute “Breathing Machines.” It starts off very quiet and low, very heavy, but it definitely picks up, and as the very sonic-sounding guitars start blaring away behind traditional drums and congos, you can’t help but be impressed. This is a living, breathing, extremely organic song. “Elle Besh” starts off similarly slower, with an almost eerie, horror-movie feel to it, but it does pick up with a more bouncy, introspective feel despite short bursts of electric guitar over a very flowing rhythm. “Long Winded” is much more odd, with some very echoed percussion, clanging and banging forming the start, but it flows into a tribal-sounding instrumental with some absolutely incredible flute! The vocals kick in on the last two tracks, and they don’t sound a bit out of place, really just merging with the music and fitting perfectly. “Yes Sir, No Sir” is another lengthy, flowing track, and while it doesn’t pick up too much, the vocals and soft horns add a very nice touch to this song. The feel of the vocals especially is very African tribal, but not so much that you rock fans won’t like it. Rather, it’s lofty and beautiful. And the finale, “Asphodel,” may be the most impressive song here, combining soft, acoustic guitar with some odd, bouncy vocals that combine with almost church choir-like backing vocals. This song is so pretty and light and lovely.
It’s so hard to describe the music of Cerberus Shoal. Every song builds and ebbs and flows like a living thing. There are countless changes and adaptations throughout each song, so you will not get bored in a 10-minute epic. Bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai come to mind on some of these tracks, but Cerberus Shoal is doing something completely different, and they even have enough instruments to put those bands to shame. This one is definitely worth picking up and listening to at any time. The power and beauty of this band is unparalleled.