Tanner Babcock

Cerberus Shoal (Big Blood)

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Year Title Rating
1995 Cerberus Shoal 6.5/10
1997 ...And Farewell to Hightide 6/10
1998 Elements of Structure/Permanence 6.5/10
1999 Homb 7.5/10
2000 >>Crash My Moon Yacht .../...
2002 Mr. Boy Dog 8/10
2003 Chaiming the Knoblessone 7/10
2004 Bastion of Itchy Preeves 6.5/10
2005 The Land We All Believe In 9/10
2007 Big Blood - Sew Your Wild Days Tour 6/10
2007 Big Blood - Space Gallery .../...
2008 Big Blood - The Grove .../...
2008 Fire on Fire - The Orchard 7.5/10
2008 Big Blood - Big Blood & the Bleedin' Hearts 8/10
2009 Big Blood - Already Gone 6.5/10
2010 >>An Ongoing Ding .../...
2010 Big Blood - Dead Songs .../...
2010 Big Blood - Dark Country Magic 8/10
2010 Big Blood - Operators and Things 6.5/10
2011 Big Blood - Big Blood & The Wicked Hex .../...
2012 Big Blood - Old Time Primitives .../...
2013 Big Blood - Radio Valkyrie + 1905 + 1917 + .../...
2014 Big Blood - Unlikely Mothers .../...
2014 Big Blood - Fight for Your Dinner 5.5/10
2015 Big Blood - Double Days 7/10
2016 Big Blood & Elliott Schwartz - Ant Farm .../...

I am in love with this band. The fact that so few rock listeners have even heard of the genius of Cerberus Shoal, and even fewer took the time to appreciate or review their incredible music, only proves how moronic and clueless the entirety of the pop-listening masses is. This is a band of true innovators, pioneers that the world has been ignoring (somehow) for 20 years. They are eccentric, wild, uninhibited and passionate, but at the same time, careful, composed, and disciplined. Their discography shows a transformation from an emo/post-hardcore group, to a lush orchestra of post-rock and avant-folk ensembles. It infuriates me, but also comforts me how obscured and niche this band is.

Their 2005 masterpiece, The Land We All Believe In, is my fourth-favorite album of all time. This album achieves what so many artists only desperately try to: pure control of aesthetics, total confidence in its artistic messages, and a rigorously-disciplined and intricately-composed orchestra. The two most prominent stylistic achievements of Land are its percussive insistence (xylophones, vibes, bells, bongos, endless percussion), and its heavenly vocal arrangements. Every segment of this album's six tracks is a story, a fable with a message, a moral, and a conclusion. And this story is narrated with characters, highly-trained vocalists that summon angels from heaven, to entice and nurture the perceptions of the listener.

You can just lose yourself in the sublimity and perfection of this group. There seems to be endless overlapping voices, an unexpectedly eclectic palette of instruments (that blends banjo, xylophone, synthesizer, saxophone, affected guitars, atmospheric drones), and a team of operatic vocalists. It seems impossible to determine where this album comes from; musically, socially, and geographically. Even though it sticks to rock formulas and cues, it also paints long, atmospheric passages, with roaring waves of sound and static. The Land We All Believe In makes the entirety of recorded music look like garbage. The flawlessly-written spoken-word passages sound like the voice of God booming down from the clouds.