Reminds us of: Air, Ballistic Brothers, Broadcast, Skalpel, Fragile State, Kruder and Dorfmeister, Stereolab, Saint Etienne, Skylab, Lemonjelly
Links to songs in blue.
Amidst the explosion of dance music in the 1990s, chill-out music blossomed, designed to aid the come down from the full on clubbing experience. Although ambient music from the likes of Eno, Harold Budd, Laraaji and so on had been around for quite some time, it was the KLF who started to integrate club sounds through their ‘Chill Out’ and ‘Space’ albums, with artists like the Orb following suit. As dance music diversified, incorporating a range of different influences, so did chill out, creating lounge, trip hop, downtempo and so on.
Compilation albums like the Rebirth of Cool showcased acts that embraced jazz, dub, Latin and more, and compilation series like ‘Back to mine’ and DJ Kicks series saw DJ’s putting contemporary downtempo artists alongside easy listening tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. It’s this melting pot of influences that I’m most reminded of when listening to Vanishing Twin’s music, and it is rather wonderful.
Vanishing Twin syndrome refers to a process called fetal resorportion whereby the embryo of one twin is absorbed into the other twin, which happens in about 30% of all twin pregnancies. Lead singer of Vanishing twin the band Cathy Lucas found out that she was the twin that survived when she was 12, and sings about this on the first track of their debut album ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’.
Vanishing Twin is a coming together of a number of notable musicians in their own right. Cathy was formally a member of Fanfarlo, and also recorded an album as Orlando with Tomaga a year ahead of Vanishing Twin’s debut. Valentina Magaletti played in Fanfarlo, Tomaga and Neon Neon, Susumu Mukai records as Zongamin, Phil MFU as Man From Uranus and Broadcast, and they are joined by Elliot Arndt. Most of these artists create pretty experimental stuff on their own, but together seem to curb their excesses and make music that is very accessible, albeit pleasantly eccentric and quirky.
Vanishing Twin Syndrome kicks off that debut album, a song in two parts – the first jazzy psychedelia slightly reminiscent of ‘The State I’m in’ by Josefin Ohrn and the Liberation and the second like ’93 aka Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Lemonjelly. Telescope, The Conservation of Energy and It Sends My Heart Into a Spin channel that sixties pop psychedelia sound with the latter two reminiscent of Air, with the rest of the album navigating its way through some pretty experimental but also very listenable and cool sounds. It’s a fine record.
A six song EP followed a year later in 2017 in the shape of Dream By Numbers with five new songs plus one from the debut album. Again all good tunes, all slightly experimental and in places you feel as though you could be watching a trippy independent film from the 1960s.
New album ‘The Age of Immunology’ was released last month, and is of a similarly high standard to its predecessors. Lead single KRK (At Home In Strange Places) kicks off the album combining the jazziness of Skalpel and Kruder and Dorfmeister with a vocal that sounds similar to Skylab’s Fragment. Wise Children floats dreamily into psychedelic territory before we back into filmic Lalo Schifrin mode with Cryogenic Suspension May Save Your Life. You are not an Island reminds me of an other-worldly Nick Drake, and then we float off again with the albums’ title track. The breezy Magician's Success is next – quite Saint Etienne poppy, and then we get Planete Sauvage with its vocals sung in French to a jazzy beat, accompanied by noises that are remarkably similar to the Moon Up mix of Can’s Pnoom. The rest of the album twists and turns into ever more interesting territory with Backstroke and the lush Invisible World before closing with Language is a City.
All in all its brilliant stuff, quite unique and yet somehow reminiscent of so many things.