Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Vim and Vigour of Alvarius B and Cerberus Shoal - (2002)

The second in a series of split EPs released by North East Indie Records pairing Cerberus Shoal with kindred spirits (the first was the Whys and Hows of Herman Dune and Cerberus Shoal), The Vim & Vigour of Alverius B and Cerberus Shoal pairs the Maine-based 6-piece with Alan Bishop (a.k.a. Alvarius B) from the Sun City Girls. Alvarius B begins the set with a reinterpretation of Cerberus Shoal's "Ding," croaking out the lines like Jack Nance on codeine as a guitar plinks and plucks along and a see-sawing violin hovers above. "Blood Baby" and "Viking Christmas" are Alvarius B originals. In the spooky psych-folk vein of Comus or Maitreya Kali, the songs veer between humor and horror as Bishop sings of "chopped up babies" and how "no two bodies are the same when you're learning how to maim." Cerberus Shoal takes over on the second half of the disc. Reinterpreting the previous two songs, Cerberus Shoal adds intricate and textured arrangements and choral-style vocals. Their version of "Bloody Baby" even sounds a little like a Kurt Weill cabaret tune, and "Viking Christmas" is nearly a cappella save for some punctuating percussion. The CD ends with Cerberus Shoal's own version of "Ding," "The Real Ding." A typewriter clicks away on the background for the first half of the song before being replaced by rhythm that is one part post-rock one part Magic Band in a tarpit. A chorus tackles most of the vocals, layering on the harmonies, and the instrumentation constantly shifts from guitars to banjos to accordion: this 18 minute track never lags despite its slow tempo.

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