This review originally ran in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland) on September 3, 2012.
Conquering Animal Sound
Stirling Old Town Jail
* * * *
Round the back of Stirling’s Old Town Jail, a disused yard has lately been revitalised by (counter) cultural activists Creative Stirling. Their recent Freedom Versions venture enlivened the historic walls with a graffiti mural (among other endeavours), and its closing gig starred chamber-indie harmonists Quickbeam and alt-rock swashbuckler Withered Hand.
In the midst, flanked by the gaol and the gloaming, Glasgow-based duo Conquering Animal Sound unfurled a typically thrilling set of choral electronica, ambient rapture and local resonance. “Shout out to the Callander homeboys, otherwise known as my mum and dad,” proclaimed machine-overlord and guitarist James Scott (alias dream-scuzz gallant The Japanese War Effort), before performing tracks from forthcoming Chemikal Underground album, On Floating Bodies – the follow-up to their mercurial, Scottish Album of the Year Award shortlisted debut, Kammerspiel. On this evidence, it is a hugely exciting prospect.
The new songs advance Scott and singer Anneke Kampman’s knack for techno with a warm pulse, an exquisite voice and a big pop heart, and the duo seemed more in command of their intricate technical live set-up than ever. Kampman’s arresting, self-manipulated vocals remain impressively measured (her words and elocution are crucial), but here they appeared to lead the songs, where once they interwove.
Her lyrical alliteration and replication performed a striking, nigh-percussive role on the crackling groove of The Future Does Not Require and the burbling swoon of I’ll Be Your Mirror (which bore more relation to the earthly Berlin electronica of To Rococo Rot or Barbara Morgernstern than it did to the Velvet Underground song of the same name), while the darkening sky for eerie-aria Treehouse provided a glorious setting for spotting these iridescent, rising stars of Scottische pop.