Saturday, November 14, 2009

Homb - (1999)

The first recording done with Harbeson and Kovaceic aboard, Homb shows the band now fully settled into its own style of drone and psych exploration. Consisted in full here as a six piece, the band offers credits on everything from copper flutes to a-go-go bells and talking drums and just about anything in between. While still theoretically a rock band, Cerberus Shoal clearly is more interested in exploring wherever or whatever exists to perform on or with. What makes the multiplicity of instruments interesting is that the end result depends just as much on moody minimalism as full arrangements, over the album's five-song length. The first impression, though, with the opening "Harvest," is one of warmth, mixing what could almost be distorted radio chatter, plus movie samples and guitar feedback, with a gentle, swelling synth/organ rise and heartbeat drums. The song takes its time to continue and develop, calling to mind everything from turn-of-the-'70s Pink Floyd and Popol Vuh to modern post-rock along the way. From there, the sextet introduces rock back into things via "Omphalos" — while the slow pace and semi-orchestral development of the track calls to mind Godspeed you Black Emperor!, there's a different edge to this recording, not as overbearing or immediately climactic. The three-part "Myrrh" wraps up Homb, each section a lengthy composition in itself. "Myrrh (Waft)" starts with soft bells and chimes around a quiet melody, like "Harvest," introducing small, subtle changes here and there before slightly mournful, lost vocals and soft drums appear halfway through. "Myrrh (Loop)" first increases the energy of the proceedings, adding more instrumentation (especially via horns), then alternates between quieter passages and heavier, more portentous rock slams which still have a spiraling, strange beauty to them. "Myrrh (Reprise)" concludes this fine album with more gently persistent energy and a last, volume-rising blast to sign off with. A grand last touch. (

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