Cerberus Shoal | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Cerberus Shoal

Chaiming the Knoblessone
North East Indie Records

During my academic career, I had difficulty with only one subject: Spanish. For 50 minutes a day I sat in a class where I learned how to conjugate past-perfect verbs and say ridiculous phrases such as "my soup is cold." My pronunciations were brutal and my enthusiasm lackluster. Perhaps it was because I wasn't fully immersed in the language and culture, but for me the concept of learning to speak a foreign language fluently seemed counterintuitive when the class instruction was mostly in English. I would have been better off getting dropped in Peru without a lick of the language under my belt: If I didn't understand Spanish while immersed in the language, I would die trying.

Sometimes, no matter how diligently you study, how dedicated you are to comprehending the concept, how persistently you try to stay focused, the big "Ah-ha!" never comes. And in that way, I consider the performance-art-rock of Cerberus Shoal as my new Spanish. The band's recent release Chaiming the Knoblessone is a recording of sound collages and conceptual ideas put forth in suspended animation. The attempt of Cerberus Shoal, while noble in theory, isn't successful in practice. There are major hurdles to overcome when one can only hear and not see or experience performance art. The seven songs on Chaiming the Knoblessone might contain some semblance of merit, but too often only leave confusion and bewilderment and make me question: What was I missing by not being an active audience member?

Performance art should be experienced and not just heard -- kind of like Spanish. Perhaps Cerberus Shoal should stick to that formula. Just please, no quizzes afterward.

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