Cerberus Shoal – Homb

I know practically nothing about Cerberus Shoal, other than that they had a release on the Postmarked Stamps compilation. That was a nice, flowing instrumental piece, but I still wasn’t prepared for this album. This is probably the best background/fore-brain music I’ve heard in years. Cerberus Shoal combine electronics with traditional rock instruments, horns, and ethnic instrumentation to create an amazing album that I can just put on repeat and never grow bored. In fact, this stuff gets inside your head so much, that I often am listening to silence for several minutes before realizing that the album is over.
There’s something dark and moody pervasive throughout Homb. You almost get a sense that the band is huddled in a dark room, perhaps the basement of the studio, playing with their eyes closed, ignoring each other, playing out the dark and deep emotions from inside them. And you feel a part of those emotions as this music takes shape, almost alive in its steady flow, it’s subtle sounds, it’s loud and quiet moments.
“Harvest” starts things off with recorded mumblings mixed below a layer of electronic sound, wafting louder and softer, with a drum beat beneath that sounds like the throbbing of a human heart. “Omphalos” has a more traditional style, with a soft drum beat and a flowing, almost jazzy rhythm. The horns kick in here for a beautiful accompaniment. And, like the other songs on Homb, this song flows and ebbs, almost like something alive – an amazing feat. And the flutes and other instruments in this song lend it a world music flare. “Myrrh (waft)” is more than 12 minutes long and slow, quiet, peaceful. Tinkling bells are barely audible in the background behind some keyboard and occasional guitar. Oh, and there’s lyrics here, surprising but echoed and sparse, as if to fill the empty spaces. “Myrrh (loop)” blends in with the previous track to begin but then begins to blast, probably more intense than any other song, very bass heavy with sax in the background. Chanting, flutes, whistles, and other non-traditional instruments are used in this song perfectly. Finally, “Myrrh (reprise)” incorporates African-style string instruments, drums and chantings to make an amazing track, the like of which I haven’t heard since Peter Gabriel’s Passion.
If you like the instrumental ambient/rock stylings of Tristeza and Red Stars Theory, you’re going to love Cerberus Shoal. If you like jazz and instrumental world music, you’re going to love Cerberus Shoal. If you love losing yourself in sounds, just closing your eyes and letting the sounds take residency in your head, then you are going to love Cerberus Shoal.