About a month ago I was reading a feature on Vanishing Twin in the Metro papers’ ‘new band’ page in an article that made much of their bid to become the 21st century Stereolab, an ambition that needs applauding if only because it is a lot more difficult nowadays to do the whole retro sci-fi thing than it was in the 90s.
And Stereolab and Vanishing Twin are actually big mates, so that kind of seals it.
Or does it? Stereolab are one of those bands that people have an idea about that maybe isn’t entirely accurate, you know with the stripy jumpers and effortless Yé Yé cool oozing from their every recording, but what if there’s more to it than that?
If I hadn’t read that article I wouldn’t be making any direct comparison between the two bands, or maybe any comparison at all. The music of Vanishing Twin is nearer to experimental electronica than to imaginary Eurovision entries and you probably won’t be dancing much to any of the tracks on ‘Age Of Immunolgy’, although you are likely going to find yourself nodding along appreciatively during certain passages.
Opening with the shambolic loungecore of ‘KRK’, it seems like we’re in for a grimy 40 or so minutes. ‘Wise Children’ is an actual song alright, but its swirling dubby sound more resemble, I dunno, Low or maybe Tortoise than anything Francoise Hardy ever recorded. This continues with instrumental ‘Cryogenic Suspension May Save Your Life’, and if Vanishing Point are indeed a form of Stereolab, it’s a Stereolab remixed by Gorillaz when they were seriously on one in about 2002.
I’m going to fast forward a bit to the album title track, as I expect it provides a coherent statement about what Vanishing Twin really want to tell us. Acoustic, actually flamenco guitar, echoey percussion and a spoken lyric in French from one of Vanishing Twin’s male vocalists, this is one for aficionados of 70s Gallic experimentalism is what the track seems to say to us. Confusingly, next track ‘Magician’s Success’ is as near to an actual Stereolab song as you’re going to hear anytime soon, and then we return to the avant jazz sound with ‘Planéte Sauvage’.
Last track ‘Language Is A City’ combines the pop and experimental sounds of Vanishing Twin and that defines them away from their highly regarded mentors, although it’s taken something to get things to here. ‘Age Of Immunology’ isn’t easy listening, It’s an album that deconstructs rather than emulates the sort of music that Stereolab are always associated with, and seems to originate from a different strand of European music entirely. The connections are all there though, and while it’s a little too easy to say that if you liked Stereolab you are going to at least appreciate Vanishing Twin, it’s probably also quite accurate.