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Chaiming The Knobblesome

Cerberus Shoal
Chaiming The Knobblesome
(North East Indie)

There are very few bands who cause me to flip back and forth so much as Cerberus Shoal. I heard their Homb album some time ago and have always thought it was excellent, along with some of their earlier work. Their more recent Mr. Boy Dog felt more like a sprawling mess, though, a 2CD release that really should have only been one. While their recent split series has produced some of their most inspired work to date, it has also found the group producing some of their most overblown oddness ever.

Mind you, that oddness works well at times, and when I saw them live their twisted carnie/drunken choir/whatever mass of sound hit me just perfectly and I felt like I was watching the work of possessed geniuses. Chaiming The Knobblesome is another long release full of hit-or-miss material for me. At moments, I'll feel like the group is doing something genius, yet at others I'll be so absolutely turned-off by what I'm listening to that I can barely keep myself from fast-forwarding the release.

With 7 tracks that average 11 minutes apiece (for a total of almost 78 minutes of music), Chaiming The Knobblesome is actually even longer than their previous Mr. Boy Dog, and leaves me feeling just as split. "Apatrides" opens the disc with weird percussion and ghostly wordless vocals, as the whole thing builds with an almost improvised feel that works quite well. Eventually, though, the track breaks off into a herky-jerky spoken/hollered-word track of annoying proportions before again breaking off into a closing spaced-out weirdness that again makes me feel nice inside.

From there, "Mrs. Shakespeare Torso" is a shorter track that mixes digitized voices with all kinds of instrumental meanderings before the group arrives with what is probably the best track on the release in "Sole Of Foot Of Man," another track that builds with haunting vocals, accordion, and other instruments before shambling into one of their great back-alley sing-alongs that is part fucked-up country, part space-rock/dronescape, and all good.

If the group has me in their favor by the third track, they piss it all away on the amazingly-pretentious "A Paranoid Home Companion," a way-too-long interlude in which two characters (including one with a filtered alien-sounding voice) have a discussion that seems to be a silly metaphor for exercising individual freedoms. During the rest of the release, there are times when the group again finds a unique sound and runs with it (the middle section of "Ouch: Sinti, Roma, Zigeuner,; The Names Of Gypsy" is great in particular), but for the most part the disc is even more full of bloat than their last effort. It's almost enough to make me want to give up on the group entirely, but I still think that they have the ability to pull it all together and create something amazing. Don't be fooled by the lovely packaging, this one is just too much.

Rating: 5.5