For better or for worse, there are now more ways than ever for fledgling artists to make their presence felt within the music industry. Some embark on endless and often costly promotional campaigns, securing exposure through means such as online advertising, radio interviews and television performances. Others may receive a leg up in the form of handy contacts or well-placed relatives, while some even stoop to the moral trough of organised competitions - be they huge, multi-million franchises like The X-Factor, or merely the opportunity to land a prestigious festival slot. The most 'credible' option, however, is to bypass all of these steps, and instead gain recognition either through sheer hard work, or simply being too good to ignore - Glasgow's Conquering Animal Sound being a prime recent example in both cases.
Formed in 2008, Anneke Kampman and James Scott's inventive electronic sounds floated largely under the radar until the release of debut LP Kammerspiel, via Leeds-based indie Gizeh Records. A glorious hub of inspiration and creativity, the set was a minor revelation, earning the duo an unlikely nomination for the inaugural Scottish Album of the Year prize, not to mention the attention of legendary hometown label Chemikal Underground, who promptly signed them up ahead of this sophomore. A central component of the nation's influential late '90s scene, the label provided a base from which legendary acts like Mogwai, Arab Strap and The Delgados flourished, and remains relevant to this day through new discoveries such as RM Hubbert, The Unwinding Hours and The Phantom Band; a guard of excellence On Floating Bodies could not be more at home amongst.
An ideal equilibrium of the pair's respective talents, each of its tracks is built on a bubbling base of loops derived from both samples and a weird and wonderful instrumental assortment. At times, this woozy pallet isn't wholly dissimilar from countrymen Boards of Canada, but it's through Kampman's vocals that the best reference point arises; her seductive song adding a dash of Scottish spice to Bjork's distinctive stutter. It's a resemblance that's undeniable, but since when has evoking the Icelandic queen ever been a bad thing? The effectiveness of this style is perhaps best displayed in the early stages - her voice carrying the likes of "Ultimate Heat Death of the Universe" and "The Future Does Not Require" whilst revealing a vibrant underlying pop foundation which is retained even in the record's least familiar expanses.
In a wider context, however, On Floating Bodies is the sound of Conquering Animal Sound coming out of their shell; emerging as a more confident entity and optimising practically every one of Kammerspiel's positive traits (and there were a fair few of them). The result could even be said to resemble a defining statement - a conclusion which might sound premature at this early stage, but one that's validated by the wonderful sonic identity they've already carved for themselves. Nowhere is this more evident than "I'll Be Your Mirror," the swooning highlight whose elegant development into a layered hook-laden masterclass depicts a duo who're already operating at a truly superlative level. Teasing fresh, intrinsic hooks with each new listen, it's a record that's every bit as good as its predecessor, and one which should only enhance the reputation of a group whose progress to date could scarcely have been more admirable.
Very solid review as always, Ali. I figure you may want some constructive criticism, so the (few) things I'll notice will go into this comment.
The most 'credible' option, however, is to bypass all of these steps, and instead gain recognition either through sheer hard work, or simply being too good to ignore
This sentence contains the only thing I may suggest changing about your first paragraph. It really isn't a big deal, but you sometimes add unnecessary words. You could afford to remove 'sheer' and 'simply' here, but it also works perfectly well with them.
not to mention the attention of legendary hometown label Chemikal Underground, who promptly signed them up ahead of this sophomore.
You may want to make this a proper sentence, as it's a bit much to be contained within its current sentence. Also, what do you mean by the 'sophomore' bit?
The Phantom Band; a guard of excellence
I don't believe this semi-colon is used correctly. I'd advise to go with dash(es), or you could add a subject to the second half and it would work better.
An ideal equilibrium of the pair's respective talents, each of its tracks
Your subject here is the album, but you don't directly mention it. This isn't necessarily an issue, but it would read easier by adding that somewhere within. Maybe 'each of the album's tracks'
it's through Kampman's vocals that the best reference point arises; her seductive song adding a dash of Scottish spice to Bjork's distinctive stutter
Once again, the semi-colon here should be replaced with dash(es), etc etc. Same thing happens at the beginning of your concluding paragraph, too.
As you see, most things I point out are simply grammatical things I notice. However, there's little I have to say about your writing style-- you clearly have a grasp for reviews, and you always have. If I did have one suggestion, it may be that you may want to consider adopting a bit looser of a writing tone. Your reviews are always superbly written from an editorial standpoint, but I think if you captured more of your personality within them, it would read even better. This is one thing I've been experimenting with recently, as I've realized many of my older reviews function similarly. Just think about it. I'm excited to see you back on here again, and very nice work!
Cheers Jacob, I'll consider changing them once I'm on a computer.
The personality thing is something I've been trying lately. This would probably have more had it not been written at five in the morning whilst massively hungover in the middle of an eight hour coach journey.