Fantastic Planet: Vanishing Twin And The Age Of Immunology

Vanishing Twin take us all on a trip to a strange new world with their latest album, The Age of Immunology

Almost a year ago, Vanishing Twin released a cassette called Magic & Machines, a set of spacious improvisational works recorded in one take in an old mill in Sudbury. The group sought to isolate themselves and engage in a deep listening/group therapy exercise, working quietly as to respect their host’s request to keep the volume down late at night. The result was something quite visceral, a sonic transcription of the group intuitively playing with one another’s strengths and ideas while also unfolding a ghostly substructure for their ensuing musical efforts.

On their new album, The Age of Immunology, the group hasn’t really switched up their sound, but instead has expanded the fabled lore encompassed in their body of work. Though only a couple of songs on the new album were born out of the aforementioned Sudbury sessions, the overarching result seems to highlight the group’s strengthened bond with each other and their vision. Vanishing Twin is a large group, blending together a range of backgrounds, languages, tastes and influences. However, they’ve surpassed the unease that can come in tow with a large group setting of any kind and instead have conceived a sort of hive mind, producing a celestial work spun from a plane of existence of their own surreal, science fiction-tinged creation.

The album acts as a surreal utopian odyssey, relishing in the atmosphere of each haunt, winding seamlessly from one sparkling setting to the next. Opener ‘KRK (At Home In Strange Places)’ is a galloping lounge jazz romp, dotted with bird chirps and an exotic drum beat, all while suggesting that something is slightly off-kilter with each appearance of Cathy Lucas’s glitchy findings, “At home, in strange places”. ‘Cryonic Suspension May Save Your Life’ builds a sense of anxiety with a tense marching rhythm from the group’s percussionist Val Magaletti and ever-swelling layers of strings, remaining all tangled up before releasing into a buoyant groove grounded by Lucas’s velvety commentary on an otherworldly scene.

Fantastical scenes aside, The Age of Immunology also advocates for the idea of a “pluralist dream”, aiming to unite all people and disassemble the structures that fuel fear of the different or unknown. Multiple members’ speaking voices make appearances on the album, often in their native tongues, gently gliding you through scenes of starry-eyed sincerity. On ‘The Age of Immunology’ and ‘Invisible World’, new voices weave into the mix over some of the more mellow instrumentals the album offers. ‘Invisible World’ appears on the back end of the album, cooling off from the tenacious rhythm of ‘Backstroke’ with blissed out strings, space-age synth flourishes, and a firm voice announcing, “Right now, all around you / The invisible world calls”. Each instance of the members’ vocal appearances serve as a guiding commentary for what realm you’re entering next. It’s a bit soothing really, like the gentle musical interludes that punctuate the chapters of a children’s book on tape.

Each song title and their respective lyrics is a bit cryptic, hinting at a broader futurist or cultish tale. However, the group never pushes any rigid narrative or social commentary. Each facet of Vanishing Twin’s work is crafted with an inherent playfulness, never reeking of self-seriousness or a push for a commercialized group “brand”. Sure, the idea of a psychedelic group jovially embracing the idea of a boundaryless world could induce an eyeroll from some, but the group has become adept at honing a tongue-in-cheek tone, inviting you into a magical dimension that’s just for play.

Though many have hailed the group as a successor to the psych-pop legacies of Broadcast or Stereolab, Vanishing Twin are one of the most original and exciting acts of the moment, deserving of their own spotlight for effortlessly weaving their style through multiple mediums. The Age of Immunology finds the group tightening some bolts and adding depth to their mythology, and it’s really quite a treat. The album is an escapist dream, blending fantasy with philosophy and silliness with high art. With The Age of Immunology, Vanishing Twin have established themselves as diplomats of their own fantastic planet and it’s high time we meet them there.

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