Herman Düne – The Whys and Hows of Herman Düne and Cerberus Shoal

Herman Düne
The Whys and Hows of Herman Düne and Cerberus Shoal

The first of several collaborative efforts between the Portland, Maine ensemble Cerberus Shoal and some of their more essoteric musical friends, this release pairs the Shoal with the French band Herman Düne. The two bands met upon the Shoal’s European tour, got together again at South By Southwest Festival, and got the idea to begin the series. Further pairings with Cerberus Shoal will include Alvarius B, Guapo, and the Magic Carpathians.
Cerberus Shoal has put aside their mellow, textured rock ways for a more avant-experimental bent. Their music has become less accessible while even more far-reaching, and while it’s admirable, you can tell from their recent releases that they’re still getting accustomed to their new sound. In small doses, it works exceptionally well, and they pair with another band that blends experimental styles with more tried and true music.
Herman Düne starts with the avant-folk “I Want a Woman,” a light-hearted and playful piece. Far, far better is “A Sight For Soul Eyes.” Sounding a bit like they draw from Will Oldham as well as gospel and folksters from centuries past in the United States, this song has lovely acoustic guitar and some nice accompaniment. It may be the highlight of the whole disc. Then they have “If Someone Loves You,” which sounds a bit looser, less well produced, but still is a nice acoustic song with multiple vocals and odd percussion (wooden blocks, I believe), and “That Woman is a Murderess,” a more intriguing and flowing song akin to their second tune. Their three Garajes or interludes are more experimental. Mixing in some instruments and outside sounds, they break up the album while not particularly adding to it.
Cerberus Shoal has two lengthy songs with three interludes (titled “UR #1, #2, and #3). Their interludes are a bit more noisy and less cohesive but nicely separate their songs. “Sweetie” is wonderful, with odd yet engrossing vocal layering and fantastic instrumentation. Warbling yet flowing in a folksy way as well, the song is phenomenal. “Bouzouki” has a foreign feel as its name would imply. In fact, Cerberus Shoal’s offerings feel more foreign than Herman Düne’s. It’s got a European folk rhythm and some nice instrumentation, keeping a slower pace.
I still prefer the Cerberus Shoal of a few albums ago, when they were paired with their partners-in-arms Tarphigh. Their new style is a bit less accessible if more intriguing and experimental, and I can appreciate that. Their songs are very strong on this release, but they’re almost eclipsed by Herman Düne, a very strong band. This release is very nice and has stellar artwork courtesy of Colleen Kinsella. Pick it up!