by trevor elkin
The first, but least important thing to say about London’s phantasmagoric super troupe Vanishing Twin, is that searching for related images on Google is not advisable, unless you have a strong constitution. The second, most vital piece of information is that on Choose Your Own Adventure they go some way to filling the Broadcast-shaped-hole in psychedelia’s heart.
Ok, so it’s an obvious comparison, given the fact that Phil (Man From Uranus) played in both and, before we go any further, we’re not proposing that Vanishing Twin are some poor-relation tribute act either, (though they did get us listening to ‘Book Lovers’ again, almost 20 years now since its release). No, after several listens, it’s clear that while it might be fun to project comparisons like some kind of liquid light show onto Choose Your Own Adventure, it would only obscure its own, true, much darker shape.
The Vanishing Twin project was started by Cathy Lucas (who is known as Orlando for her solo work). She’s joined by drummer, Valentina Magaletti (Tomaga, Raime, Neon Neon), bassist Susumu Mukai (electronic producer Zongamin), film-maker and visual artist Elliott Arndt on flute & percussion and the aforementioned library music head, Phil MFU. They’re named after the (more common than you might imagine) ante-natal syndrome which led to Lucas absorbing her own twin sister while they were both still developing in the womb. This would definitely be the stuff of nightmarish trips, if it weren’t for the gentler, almost neo-romantic narrative of opening track ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’, which tells that whole story as if either she or her sister had a choice over their fate; “we made a deal that we would be forever joined as siamese / but when we tried to unify, I enlarged and she declined. Treachery, oh treachery, for now you live inside of me”.
What follows is esoteric escapism at its very best. With added magick from producer Malcolm Catto (Heliocentrics, DJ Shadow, The Gaslamp Killer), Choose Your Own Adventure delivers eight more tracks wrapped in entrancing beats and bass lines, sliding the listener hypnotically into another state of mind. This mental shift enables Lucas and friends to conjure the extraordinary from the mundane, guiding us through the safer ground of dream pop (‘Telescope’ and ‘The Conservation Of Energy’) into more explosive, tangential explorations of sound (‘Eggs’, ‘Floating Heart’). Angelic vocal samples, modular synths, sketchy, dissonant hammond riffs, flutes, tablas and unplaceable instruments are manipulated and exploited to their full psychotropic effect.
The result is an album which, while redolent of the trappings of some mid-century futurist party with all its space-age aesthetics, garish geometric patterns, exotic fur rugs, acid-orange bakelite hookah pipes and other culturally appropriated totems of power – it’s never trapped by the idea of them or, in fact, any idea. There is plenty of space to be both playful and intellectual with this music. In the end, it doesn’t matter who you are (or who you think you are) you only “get out what you put in”, and fortunately for us Vanishing Twin are incredibly generous hosts.
Join the party, below.
‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ is out now on Soundway