With their flowing, unusual, yet welcoming blend of sounds, the multi-national experimental electronic pop ensemble Vanishing Twin gives heart to heady concepts of identity and belonging. The group’s music includes Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, Stereolab, Martin Denny, and Can in its wide embrace, but Vanishing Twin know how to piece these influences together into their own playful explorations. Whether examining ideas about existence and evolution on 2016′s Choose Your Own Adventure, the need to fight against populism and xenophobia on 2019′s The Age of Immunology, or the restorative powers of reflection on 2021′s Ookii Gekkou, their touch is light but unmistakable.
Prior to forming Vanishing Twin, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas played with the London bands My Sad Captains and Fanfarlo and launched her spacy electronic pop project Orlando in 2014. After releasing Play Time: Music for Video Games, a 2015 split album with Tomaga, Lucas and the band she’d assembled to play Orlando’s songs live — drummer Valentina Magaletti (another former Fanfarlo member), bassist Susumu Mukai (aka Zongamin), keyboardist/guitarist Phil M.F.U. (a former member of Broadcast), and flautist/percussionist Ellliott Arndt — became Vanishing Twin. The project took its name from the syndrome that happens when one of the fetuses in a multiple pregnancy dies and is absorbed by its twin. This happened to Lucas, inspiring her to write songs about her lost twin and the directions her sibling’s life might have taken. These became the group’s first full-length, Choose Your Own Adventure. Released in September 2016 on Soundway Records, the album was praised for its inventive songwriting and sounds, which the group shaped with the help of producer Malcolm Catto, the leader of Heliocentrics.
Following the acclaim for Choose Your Own Adventure, Vanishing Twin resurfaced in May 2017 with the Dream by Numbers EP, which took the band’s music to trippier heights with its largely improvised pieces. The following year saw the release of Magic & Machines, a pair of spontaneous tracks recorded in a single take in an old mill and released by Blank Editions as a limited-edition cassette. Vanishing Twin used these sessions as the foundation of their second album, June 2019′s The Age of Immunology. A protest against the increasing xenophobia in the U.K. and around the world sung in the bandmembers’ native tongues (English, Italian, Japanese, and French), it met with critical acclaim. To finance a North American tour, the band issued the instrumental EP In Piscina! in March 2020. For their third album, Vanishing Twin became the quartet of Lucas, Mukai, Magaletti, and Phil M.F.U.. Written and recorded during the COVID-19 lockdowns, October 2021′s Ookii Gekkou (Japanese for “big moonlight”) took inspiration from Piero Umiliani, Art Ensemble of Chicago, and ELO for its introspective yet bustling response to quarantine life. ~ Heather Phares