Thursday, April 4, 2013

Live Review: Conquering Animal Sound, The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle, 02/04/2013

Good labels are like good brands: trusted, sure-fire stamps of quality which listeners can rely on whilst sifting through a never ending mirage new music. For me, none epitomises this notion more than Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow-based independent which was at the heart of the city's late '90s scene with signings such as Mogwai, Arab Strap and The Delgados, and has retained its relevance with fresh blood like RM Hubbert, Loch Lomond and The Phantom Band. When it reached my attention, then, that they were issuing the second LP by local buzz band Conquering Animal Sound, it seemed like a no brainer to invest time in these latest protégés, and as anticipated the product in question, Of Floating Bodies did nothing but justify my faith. Indeed, the extent of the new record's excellence was on full display during this low-key appearance at Newcastle's Cumberland Arms - a gig where Anneke Kampman and James Scott completely overlooked 2011's Kammerspiel (A Scottish Album of the Year candidate, no less) in favour of fresh material.

Although categorised under the loose umbrella of pop music, the duo's sound is hardly one set to take charts by storm; their sonic hub predominantly characterised by a dense, pulsing collage of synths and loops as well as the frontwoman's stuttering, Bjork-esque vocal performances. Reaching its peak on cuts such as "The Future Does Not Require" and the stunning "I'll Be Your Mirror," their eclectic, creative sound saw Scott alternate between electronics, bass and other curious artifacts, and in doing so occupy the spotlight just as much as his sprightly, engaging companion. This chemistry was in evidence throughout, even whilst stamping their mark on Divine's gay disco classic "You Think You're A Man," a bizarre choice to close the set, but one which nevertheless winded up being inspired. With an audience of around 20, it's clear Conquering Animal Sound are yet to catch on south of the border, but if this show, and my experience with them in general prove anything, it's the virtue of a good label in the perennial quest for muzik dizcovery.



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