Vanishing Twin are London based musicians who I imagine regard themselves as more of an art collective than a band. With more than a hint of 60’s monochromatic cool and 90’s trip hop, this, their third album once more extends the icy cool shards of music laid down on their previous efforts, and with seemingly little effort. The question is though, is it art over content? Is it all design over feeling? Basically is it all fur coat and no knickers?! The truth is, they’ll probably never be mentioned in the same breath as MC5 or Alternative TV, but if you like your coffee table in white melamine, perhaps tastefully decorated with a minimalist lava lamp, while you lounge in an orange egg shaped capsule in your silver jump suit, then this will be a welcome addition to your space age lifestyle… and let’s face it, who doesn’t?
“Big Moonlight (Ookii Gekkou)” starts the album, coming on like the more mellow Stereolab, with Cathy Lucas’s flattened vocals doing a good Laetitia Sadier impression over a lazy 5/4 rhythm, while tremolo guitar and vibes do their thing. This vibe is continued with “Phase One Million”, which adds a funky bass to proceedings, and a synth that comes straight from Emperor Tomato Ketchup period Stereolab, but with a very subtle hint of Meet The Residents seeping through the cracks. “Zuum” has a more exotica feel, its insistent marimba style rhythms, and percussion evoking the aural landscapes of Martin Denny, and the layers of analogue synth adding warmth and dimension and a soupcon of BBC Radiophonic workshop tinkering, which continues into the opening sequence of “The Organism”, with many a fine swoosh and wibble underpinning a strange spoken word ‘out-of-this-world’ cosmos. This is where the album gets interesting, like it has set sail on familiar territory and turned a corner to find itself in uncharted lands filled with mysterious noises, not altogether nice, but not unduly bad. “In Cucina” gets all Residents meets Martin Denny and Sun Ra somewhere near the source of the Nile, danceable and chantable and exotic, like drifting through foreign radio stations on a short-wave radio. “Wider Than Itself” and “Light Vessel” plant themselves back in the familiar worlds of Broadcast and Stereolab, with lethargic 6/8 jazz drumming and squidgy analogue synths wandering around in the brain, gently caressing the cortex, while flat whispered vocals massage the frontal lobes, sometimes with Joni Mitchell style harmonies, others vocoder treated. The chugging groove of “Tub Erupt” displays a more urgent need to engage the listener, while “The Lift” piles on the funk but with a tempered layering, much like some of the work of Barry Adamson. A cool soundtrack.
There is much to enjoy about this album and it would sound great on a decent quality system, where its funky otherworldliness would take you on a magic carpet ride through the 60’s moog laboratories of UFO TV and the Delia Derbyshire White Noise soundscapes of the past futures. File under Stereolab, Broadcast, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Mono (the English one), Cobalt Chapel, Bowery Electric and The Residents.
Catch Vanishing Twin on tour around the UK and mainland Europe:
16 Oct: John Peel Centre, Stowmarket, UK
17 Oct: Arts Cool, Elsewhere, Margate, UK
21 Oct: White Hotel, Manchester, UK
22 Oct: Bongo Club, Edinburgh, UK
23 Oct: Broadcast, Glasgow, UK
24 Oct: Future Yard, Birkenhead, UK
25 Oct: The Lanes, Bristol, UK
26 Oct: Hare And Hounds, Birmingham, UK
28 Oct: Kings Place, London, UK
06 Nov: Arts Cool, Elsewhere, Margate, UK
09 Nov: Pôle Etudiant, Nantes, France
10 Nov: Le Petit Bain, Paris, France
11 Nov: Le Grand Mix, Le Tourcoing, France
12 Nov: Le Guess Who?, Utrecht, Netherlands
13 Nov: Sonic City, Kortrijk, Belgium
14 Nov: Rotondes, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
16 Nov: Hebbel Am Uffer, Berlin, Germany
17 Nov: Club Manufaktur, Schorndorf, Germany
18 Nov: Kammerspiele, Munich, Germany
19 Nov: Trans Century Update, Leipzig, Germany
20 Nov: Palace St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Ookii Gekkou is out now on Fire Records. Order on vinyl, CD and digital download or listen on streaming services here.
Find out more on Vanishing Twin’s official website.
Review by Andrew Wood