Conquering Animal Sound: Command and Conquer

With a staunch DIY ethic and a vivid imagination in their favour, <b>Conquering Animal Sound</b> release their debut album this month. <b>James Scott</b> and <b>Anneke Kampman</b> talk us through Kammerspiel’s conception

Feature by Ryan Drever | 04 Feb 2011
  • Conquering Animal Sound

Forged over a mutual attraction to musical exploration, Conquering Animal Sound – Glasgow-based duo James Scott (also of The Japanese War Effort) and Anneke Kampman – gripped the ears of those lucky enough to hear their 25-minute mixtape, Your Friends, Conquering Animal Sound, when it emerged in mid 2009. Since then, the inventive pair have steadily developed and honed their sound – a mixture of electronic textures, brittle, layered vocals and an array of eclectic instrumentation – culminating in a series of clever live electronic performances and their first full-length record.

Released this month on Leeds-based Gizeh Records (in conjunction with Edinburgh indie Mini50), Kammerspiel – taken from the 1920s German silent film movement of the same name – is testament to the fact that home recording and incessant manipulation of loops and gadgets doesn't always result in the self-indulgent fug of one man and his lo-fi field recordings. Having commenced recording and producing the album in Kampman's old living room – where the two first met – CAS afforded themselves the time and space to create a diverse and imaginative piece of work.

"People have expressed surprise that we've recorded something that sounds as it does with only two microphones in a person's house," says Scott. "Personally, I don't understand their raised eyebrows. The ease of working at home – and the complete lack of constraints – is far more conducive to producing something I’m happy with. If you know what your limitations are, and can work around those, then I don't see why you can't produce something that sounds great and interesting."

"Neither of us have the hours or financial means to record in a professional studio," Kampman elaborates. "I don't feel that it would be a valuable use of our time anyway. We can spend a long time editing together very small sections of audio and processing things to our exact specifications without feeling we need to hurry up. I think a lot of people, especially those who make electronic music, feel a certain pressure to make things sound the 'biggest' and 'best' they possibly can.

"I don't really subscribe to this attitude – partially due to the fact that I'm not lucky enough to own a lot of expensive equipment, but also because I want our sounds to retain a sense of truth and authenticity,” she adds, before outlining what could very well be the band's mantra: "If this means that sometimes our kick drums sound a little weak or our synth parts are covered in hiss, then so be it."

Similar to the sprawling nature of that first mixtape, Kammerspiel flows as a linear experience, with each track slowly unfurling and almost bleeding into the next. It's an effect few can really nail, but one CAS were keen to explore: "We always had it in mind to make the album flow as one piece of work," Kampmann asserts. "Whether or not this meant that songs would be literally strung together was not so certain.”

"I had the word [Kammerspiel] in mind for a long time. I saw that there was a comparison to be drawn between the way [those] films were made and what occurred within them, and [Conquering Animal Sound’s] approach to music making. I imagine a lot of different facial expressions within our songs, similar to the way narrative was conveyed in Kammerspiel films. I think there’s an intimacy to our music, which is probably a consequence of the fact that it has been made by two people together in one space."

With new material already in the works alongside a welcome chunk of tour dates to accompany the release of their debut, the 2011 calendar is already filling up. What else can we expect from the duo in the coming year?

"Some festivals, if anyone will have us, and more touring later in the year, if we’re allowed any more holidays from work," Scott jokes as he issues a semi-serious plug. "And if anyone wants us to DJ at their wedding/birthday/child christening, we'd be more than happy to, as long as the money is right!"

Kammerspiel is released via Gizeh/Mini50 on 7 Feb

Playing The Doghouse, Dundee on 9 Feb; Snafu, Aberdeen on 10 Feb; Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh on 11 Feb and Captain's Rest, Glasgow on 12 Feb