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Split records have great potential, but they rarely live up to it. Cerberus Shoal have been making a go, however, with their ongoing series. Number one, which found them paired with Herman Dune, was pretty decent. The other band wasn't half bad and the Cerberus songs — "Sweetie" and "Bouzouki" — were must-haves. Their follow-up, with Alvarius B, took the split idea to its natural fruition, the two groups transforming and recreating each other's songs. And then there's the latest, The Ducks and Drakes of Guapo and Cerberus Shoal, and this record may mean splitsville for the Shoal and their potential split-record audience.
Guapo contributes "Idios Kosmos," a dronefest recorded in their native England. For the first six minutes, the group creates a truly menacing, cloying, oppressive atmosphere, the sound of a cropduster in the sweltering summer sky circling overhead. Next, it's extremely processed loops for awhile. Then, about halfway through, oceanic waves of feedback calm things down and we hear a pipe-organ (probably the source material for the processed loops earlier) before rhythmic toms increase the tempo, signaling the end of a 17-minute-long masturbatory (if atmospheric) workout. Not bad, but everybody tried out this stuff in their first-ever high-school band.
The story behind Cerberus's "A Man who Loved Holes" is pretty interesting: Recorded by the group in summer 2001, the tracks were then manipulated by the band's buddy Michael Whittaker, then Shoal's Caleb Mulkerin and Karl Greenwald "finished off" the song, according to the liner notes, "with a wristwatch and a two by four." As with many remix projects, story and process may be interesting, but the result is usually less so. A 16-minute-long poem, spoken by a monotone, computerized voice, is helped along by occasional interspersions of untreated vocals — a man and woman scatting the verse and giving it more depth. Sonically, with its echoey, looping effects, this could be background music for an episode of Dr. Who, in which the good doctor gets caught in some sort of timewave or reality vortex, but the 16 minutes should have been eight.
Track three, credited to Guaperus Shoalo is nothing new, as it peppers the seemingly unaltered Guapo track with snippets from the Cerberus track, achieving nothing more than fillin’ space. It could have been called "Building Nothing out of Something."
Ultimately, there are some inspired moments on this disc, but the title says it all: Cerberus Shoal and Guapo have certainly made "ducks and drakes" of their time together.
by Josh Rogers
Issue Date: May 9 - 15, 2003
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