[sic] Magazine

Conquering Animal Sound – Kammerspiel

During the first listen of Conquering Animal Sound ‘s Kammerspiel , my immediate thoughts were of a conversation between flirting birds. There is a light, intimate quality to the album that works a little outside the standard implications or rules of such things when it comes to the realm of humans. That is, people have a tendency to remain self-conscious and wonder what the other person is thinking, often causing them to make slight adjustments to everything from their appearance to their responses during conversation.

I imagine that birds are free of such worries and therefore constraints, thus able to simply let the other one know what they’re thinking even if they retain a little code in their language – which is what flirting is all about. Conquering Animal Sound seem to be free of them, too, resulting in an album that is playful and endearing without being frivolous or childish.

As with many other courtship rituals, Kammerspiel begins with a twinkle in the eye, translated here as the sprinkling of notes from a toy piano and followed by a whisper that invites intimation. Rather than swooping in and overwhelming the listener, Anneke Kampman and James Scott use whatever is at their disposal to edge in sideways, building upon subtle electronic ambience with engaging melody and vocals. The occasionally fractured sound effects used throughout again remind me of birds – less chatter and more like the punctuated but precise turn of their head, giving that sense that everything is being carefully considered and pondered, even if momentarily.

Anneke Kampman’s vocals are indeed sometimes a little flighty and mischievous, making comparisons to Björk not too far off the mark. Genuinely light-spirited, they’re effectively moderated by the downtempo and often ethereal sounds used as either melody or effect. Which means the album never gets carried away or impetuous, keeping sentiments as a simple statement of how things are without getting over-excited by the implied possibilities or consequences – something else people have a tendency to do with unfortunate timing. Here, it’s both needed and appreciated when subject matter hints at or reveals things on the sharper end of the scale. The nearing-sombre bass and chant-like backing vocals in ‘Bear’ are a perfect example.

It’s not too often I can say an album is a delight to listen to from start to finish, particularly after acknowledging its nature isn’t all sunshine and roses, but Kammerspiel works with subtle surprise and charm. I’d venture to say it’d be almost impossible for even the most hardened listener not to be at least a little enchanted by it.

~Kammerspiel is out now on Gizeh Records .~

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