Vanishing Twin

The Age of Immunology

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From their name to the trippy examinations of the self on Choose Your Own Adventure, Vanishing Twin excel at giving a heart to heady concepts of identity and belonging. On their second album, Cathy Lucas and company give these ideas a much wider scope: The Age of Immunology is an idealistic, impressionistic rebuke to Brexit and the other xenophobic movements of the late 2010s. Though the album's subject matter is of global proportions, the group's perspective on it is personal. With members hailing from Belgium, Japan, Italy, France, and America as well as England, Vanishing Twin are living proof that the other is nothing to fear. On The Age of Immunology, they set this message to beguiling, fantastical soundscapes that are as welcoming as they are unusual. "Wise Children" is as inviting as a sunny summer day as clouds of synths drift slowly across its horizon. On "Magician's Success," the band casts an optimistic spell, with Lucas cooing "Imagine that!" over an irresistible bass line and spring-loaded electronics. The band takes care to include the many facets of their music on The Age of Immunology, all of which are frequently dazzling. Japanese bassist Susumu Mukai (aka Zongamin) takes the lead on the title track's brief electro-acoustic meditation, while French flutist/percussionist Elliott Arndt helms "Planète Sauvage," a bubbling, funky track that pays homage to the 1972 animated sci-fi film of the same name and continues the album's celebration of the unique. "KRK (At Home in Strange Places)" is a one-song melting pot: Recorded on a Croatian island, its intricate, vaguely Latin percussion and lilting, African-tinged guitar swirl together in a blend that calls to mind Stereolab, Broadcast (whose Phil MFU is also a member of Vanishing Twin), and even Sun Ra at his most cosmic. On songs such as these and the riveting, percolating "Backstroke," the band proves that the melodies and arrangements of politically minded music can be just as eloquent as the lyrics. Strings, vibraphone, and acoustic guitar weave themselves together inextricably on "You Are Not an Island," echoing Lucas as she croons "we are side by side by side," and The Age of Immunology's seamless flow reinforces Vanishing Twin's manifesto that different sounds -- and people -- can coexist in harmony. It's a message that is all the more refreshing, and necessary, during a time when figurative and literal barriers between people are only growing.

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