Conquering Animal Sound
Label: Gizeh Records
Release date: 2011-02-07
Kammerspiel was a German silent film movement in the 1920s which consisted of intimate and subtle chamber dramas. It is a suitable name then for this debut from Glaswegian two-piece Conquering Animal Sound, who consist of duo Anneke Kampman (who sings vocals) and James Stott. Their sound is both intimate and subtly dramatic (if that's at all possible), and reminds you of leftfield artists such as BjÃ¶rk , Kate Bush (in fairlight CSI mode), Imogen Heap, Four Tet and Fever Ray in their use of unusual and playfully inventive sounds. They also share similarities with fellow up-and-coming Glaswegian electronica band Laki Mera, especially in the delicate and wistful, almost girlish, sound of the vocals.
Opening track 'Maschine' sets a wistfully elegant tone with its glockenspiel, toy keyboard, harp, delicate piano, hand clapping, vocal looping, multiple vocal tracking (a strong feature throughout the album) and slow build. Its lyrics sum up the feel of the music with Anneke singing of breathing machines under "warm homes", conjuring up a private subterranean atmosphere, and summing up the soulful electronic sound that the duo has cultivated.
Real standouts of the album include 'Wildthings' (a probable reference to the Maurice Sendak's cult children's book), which whimsically imagines strange creatures with red and green eyes "sleeping in the undergrowth"; while the music is urgent and intense, beautifully layered with interesting keyboard/harmonium-like sounds and white noise. The slower and stripped back 'Neanderthal', meanwhile, is mournfully elegant with its simple looped accordion-like sound, subtle guitar work and intermittingly menacing lyrics ("I recall a flashing blade"). The more upbeat 'Giant' (and most BjÃ¶rk-like song) which follows is another intriguing listen. Its sloping rhythms and familiar toy instrument sounds are used to good effect against Anneke's vocals full of child-like wonder and curiosity about a freakishly tall man ("Are you a giant or man?").
A promising debut and definite grower that slowly weaves its spell upon the listener and leaves you wanting more.