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Vanishing Twin's third outing Ookii Gekkou is yet another incredible album

"Ookii Gekkou"

9/10
Ookii Gekkou Vanishing Twin
13 October 2021, 10:52 Written by Ross Horton
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Seconds before Fontaines D.C. took to the stage in Birmingham at a recent gig, they paid tribute to one of the finest (and most underrated) bands to ever emerge from the Midlands when they had the PA system play Broadcast’s “I Found the F” as they walked on stage and began throwing flowers out into the crowd.

Many of the crowd, who will no doubt have been present when Deerhunter dedicated their last show in Birmingham to Broadcast’s sadly departed singer Trish Keenan, will have found those few seconds an immensely therapeutic experience, whether or not they knew the song that was playing. Keenan - a relentless artistic visionary - died of pneumonia, as a result of swine flu, in 2009, and Broadcast were no more.

Vanishing Twin’s last album - the eerily prophetic The Age of Immunology - offered fans of Broadcast (and Stereolab, and Ennio Morricone, and Gallic pop music) some of the same heady thrills that they had come to love, and gave them hope where they may have previously found none. The Age of Immunology was, and still remains, an immaculate testament to the overwhelming power of pop music as seen through the eyes of French Nouvelle Vague cinema.

So Ookii Gekkou arrives, merely two years of infinity later, and it (thankfully) hits with exactly the same kind of wondrous power as its predecessor. The title - which we’re told means “Big Moonlight” in Japanese - gives no real indication of the fact that each of the tracks here offers a different, kaleidoscopic element, many of which evoke bright sunlight as opposed to the grey light of the moon.

The opening title track does carry a whiff of the nocturnal in its lullaby softness and jazzy smokiness, but this is almost instantly eradicated by the heavy and sweaty afternoon heat-haze funk of “Phase One Million”. Cathy Lucas’ vocals are breathy and detached as ever, pushing the narcotic raunch of the track to an ecstatic level.

The disorientating space jazz of “Zuum”, the soundtrack wildness of “The Organism”, and the bop-tainted free experimentation of “In Cucina” and the crispy funk of closer “The Lift” all offer a sickening variety of fantastic sonic art. The band - comprised of Lucas on vocals and guitar, Valentina Magaletti on drums, Phil MFU (once of Broadcast) on synth and guitar, and Susumu Makai on bass - are superb throughout. From top to bottom, the band are fantastic.

The rubbery Krautrock buzz of “Tub Erupt” in particular shows off the talents off the band in their signature classic territory. The tune rides a bobbly, wobbly motorik groove, with MFU’s synths dancing on top of the locked-in groove of Makai’s bass and Magaletti’s relentless drum line. Lucas’ ghostly voice, above it all, billows and whips around like a sheet on a washing line. It’s sensational, and the clear highlight of the set.

This is another incredible album - they are now three for three - from an irresistible band. Perhaps now is the time to let the links to history slide from Vanishing Twin’s context - they have superseded their initial Broadcast/Ghost Box/Sun Ra Arkesrtra influences - and see them for what they are: one of the finest bands in the world, in any genre.

P.S. If you’re into album art, Ookii Gekkou has the best album cover of the year. No question, no doubt, no mistake. The being on the cover is reminiscent of Jon Klassen’s alien creature from The Rock From The Sky or some off-world horror from La Planete Sauvage, and it’s absolutely wonderful. Worth the price of admission for that alone, never mind the almost-flawless record inside.

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