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Gig review gig reviews (Scottish)

Conquering Animal Sound

I don’t know if I’m getting ahead of myself but the past two months seem to be hinting at a great year for music, especially in Scotland. To the lengthening tapestry of innovative and accomplished acts drawing the world’s (or at least the internet’s) attention to our drizzly corner of the globe, we can now add Conquering Animal Sound. This collaboration between Anneke Kampman and James Scott has been germinating for some time now, but of late everything has come together for them.
Just a week or so ago they released Kammerspiel, their debut album on Leeds-based label Gizeh Records. A little bird whispered in my ear that they’ve already sold out the first run. Their name has been popping up in all sorts of places and it seems that everybody’s got something nice to say about them.

This hometown show is the penultimate night of the tour and there is a celebratory mood in the air; all smiles, backslapping and clinking of plastic cups. By the time they take the stage the Captain’s is packed; if not a sell-out then very close. Bodies on tiptoe line the wall. The chattering hum of the audience is in stark contrast to the noises that begin to emerge from up front, and it ceases instantly.

These are shimmering, shivering lullabies for all us man-machines out there. Breathy layers of vocals are stretched out over the barest beats and fingersnaps, lazily coagulating into songs without any perceptible change. Their sparse construction emphasises and magnifies each musical element; the introduction of an extra beat into each phrase or the strum of a single chord opening up whole new depths of emotion within their unique sound.

There is no doubting their skill. Between them they use a strikingly small collection of instruments and gadgets to create intricate but subtle soundscapes, but most impressive is the warmth at the heart of it all. These are proper songs rather than your common-or-garden glitch experiments. There are plenty of pleasant, electronic noodlings floating around this city. It’s rarer to stumble upon a sound that actually moves you.

Conquering Animal Sound are able to draw their ideas together into cohesive tunes that hold your attention far beyond the limits of similar artists. In just these formative stages of their development they are bewitching, and if they continue to develop at this rate there will be something truly spellbinding pouring out of the PA before long. For now; hand over your cash, enjoy the album in the moments before day breaks, and go see them play sometime. The proud smiles on their faces are well deserved. Congratulations to both.