Conquering Animal Sound – Talking Shapes EP

Album Review by Chris McCall | 14 Oct 2014
Album title: Talking Shapes EP
Artist: Conquering Animal Sound
Label: Chemikal Underground
Release date: 6 October

Ferenc Puskás was a tough individual and an often unpredictable footballer. While he could always be relied upon to score goals, those up against the Hungarian were never really sure what he would do next. Injuries didn’t bother him; he played throughout the 1954 World Cup with a hairline fracture in his ankle. It seems fitting that Conquering Animal Sound have named one of the four tracks on Talking Shapes after the man known as The Galloping Major. The duo, comprising co-songwriters and co-producers Anneke Kampman and James Scott, have over the course of two albums earned a reputation for crafting often beguiling songs that encompass rich electronic rhythms and organic percussion but ignore all pop structure conventions. Like Puskas, they always surprise but still manage to deliver.

This EP, their first new music in 18 months, follows on from 2013’s On Floating Bodies. Musically, each of the tracks shape-shifts through several distinct stages, utilising a variety of instruments to build some complex plateaus, but still reaching a satisfying conclusion such as robotic-like chanting on A Solid Door. Kampman’s voice and phrasing sometimes flows with the music and other times deliberately rubs against it. ‘Many parts make all of me, and all of these are not what they appear to be’ she sings on HTR1A, perhaps as close an insight into the workings of CAS as we’re likely to get.

On Puskas, she knocks around lyrics like a silky midfielder on how we find meaning in abstract concepts such as football. Talking Shapes is further proof that CAS enjoy exploring language and music in unusual ways. But they are no self-indulgent strikers, hanging around the penalty box waiting for acclaim. Kampman and Scott are team players who have delivered another memorable performance.