Thursday, 29 April 2010

Meursault, Olympic Swimmers, Conquering Animal Sound @ Cab Vol, 10/4

Conquering Animal Sound (***) spend half of their time on-stage crouched, and if you're at the front you can see why: pedals and knobs, wires and cables, gizmos and toys on the floor. It's fascinating to watch the Edinburgh duo use their array of devices to build up a song: they make a noise, loop it, pick something else up and loop it too, singer Anneke Kampman miaows and Jamie Scott fingerpicks his guitar and those sounds are looped; and six minutes later the pathwork is complete, it drops to silence, and there's huge cheers. Tonight their four rolling collages could do with a few more focal points, but it's clear to see why CAS are picking up plaudits.


In contrast, Glasgow quintet Olympic Swimmers (***) are pretty conventional, being a five-piece indie-rock band in the vein of Yo La Tengo, female lead singer aside. Like the New Jersey band, Swimmers' slow, brooding songs don't exactly set pulses racing live, and they are also apparently handicapped tonight by the absence of their usual rhythm section. Final song Father Said is the standout, redeeming a somewhat sleepy set by growing from a tenuous start towards an epic, shimmering finale. More songs like this please.


Finally it's Meursault's (*****) turn to launch their second album All Creatures Will Make Merry in front of a hometown crowd so keen the venue sold out almost a week ahead. They opt for the slightly risky strategy of playing the new album in full, despite few of the songs being known to anyone, but it's clear from the off how focused they all are on their performances. Sparse ballads, where singer Neil Pennycook is backed by just a cello and toy guitar, are interspersed with songs with racing beats and abrasive textures, and each one is met with roars at the end. On this form, Meursault are nothing short of awe inspiring.


Meursault - New Ruin (Live at the Queen's Hall) from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

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