IMMUNOLOGY REPORT

Is a world of hardening national borders an expression of a global hardening of hearts? UK based multi-national group Vanishing Twin hope not, and on their 2019 album The Age of Immunology invite us to open our ears and minds to a vision of music sans frontières.

Formed in Britain in 2015 around the talents of singer and multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas, Vanishing Twin members have a range of backgrounds: Belgium, France, Italy and the US contribute to a diversity of sensibilities. A nice touch is the inclusion of each voice in its primary language, adding a low-key exoticism and a ‘world village’ feel.

As for the music, it could perhaps be described as a multi-hued electronica with instrumental confetti adding colour to the Stereolab groove at the heart of the sound. First track “KRK (At Home in Strange Places)” has a sweet electronic burble to open proceedings followed by some jazz-infused piano over which Ms Lucas sings the brief lyric. Analogue synths are much in evidence, while the acoustic thread that runs through the album—and indeed binds it together—is here represented by gently funky percussion.

“Wise Children” has an industrial/electronic opening that evokes Broadcast but then opens up into a dreamy lounge-pop song. There is an odd but pleasing counterpoint between the smile-sad vocals and the alienated electronic backing. It’s pretty cool, and pretty catchy, and pretty. With “Cryonic Suspension May Save Your Life” (true, I guess, but can you arrange it on-line?) we’re in the territory of quirky electronica again, with a simple melodic hook repeating over a solid foundation of drums and bass. This piece hints at later Can albums such as Soon Over Babaluma and is one of my faves. The vocals enter near the end, as a kind of humanistic coda.

We need a language

That both of us speak

Gestures shared in the air

Between you and me

“Magician’s Success” is another beguiling song where Ms Lucas’ voice and the arrangement strongly evoke Stereolab. A male voice dominates “Planete Sauvage”, declaiming in French over a bubbling bass-line. The one-finger keyboard solo is bold and rather cool. The Can groove re-appears in “Backstroke” whose tribal drums and percussion also brought to mind Talking Heads.

 

Much thought has gone into the textures infusing The Age of Immunology. It’s a fine sounding album, much more colourful than the monochrome cover might suggest. Indeed, the poster that comes with the LP (also used for the download card—don’t you love album postcards?) represents the retro-futuristic oddness of the album rather better. Not that I dislike the LP artwork: it’s 50s Sci-Fi feel is evocative and appealing, just like the music. There is colour and creativity here; a sense of technology and humanity hand-in-hand. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to be inoculated against Vanishing Twin. In fact, I’d join the queue for another dose.

13 comments

  1. I’d never even heard their name Bruce.

    Like

    1. New music, Joe.

      Like

      1. But I haven’t quite bought all the old music yet.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. It is a challenge, isn’t it. There’s simply more past than present.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It’s increasing at an even rate too.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Very intriguing, Bruce. The artwork is really very nice, too… especially if it fits what’s in the grooves.

    And yes, I love Fire’s use of postcards. More labels should take that approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the art does fit, J. There is a kind of retro-futurism in this style of music and I reckon there’s some of that in the artwork.
      Good to hear I’m not the only fan of download postcards!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I will piggy back on 1537’s comment above. That was good. Plus you’re sales pitch has got me again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m curious about that one-finger keyboard solo!
    And I like that idea of the technology + humanity combo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not easy to pull off, but I really like it too when done well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A compelling pitch, Bruce.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks DD. I have a couple of jazz albums I want to write about. Soon. Sometime.

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      1. The invocation of colour and creativity with technology hand-in-hand with humanity is a very compelling argument.

        Liked by 1 person

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