Vanishing Twin, “Afternoon X” (Fire Records)

Vanishing Twin emerged in the mid 2010s as one of the most interesting groups working in the hauntological wake of Broadcast, albeit with stronger inclinations for funk and dub than Trish Keenan, James Cargill, and company exhibited during their momentous run. On albums such as 2021's Ookii Gekkou and 2019's The Age of Immunology, Vanishing Twin proved that they possess a firm grasp of sublime melody, otherworldly atmospheres, and unconventional textures. They're like a 21st-century combination of '70s library music, Damo Suzuki-era Can, and shape-shifting rhythm-magicians Heliocentrics.

These preternaturally cool qualities were on vivid display during Vanishing Twin's 2022 show at Clock-Out Lounge, where they flaunted their most cosmic sounds and expansive song arrangements to a nearly sold-out crowd. Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Cathy Lucas ruled the stage with a Genesis-era Peter Gabriel ensemble and a sangfroid singing style that glazed Vanishing Twin's psychedelically cinematic songs with nonchalant gravitas. 

Now comes the first single from VT's fourth album, Afternoon X (out October 6). The group's slimmed down to a trio, with Lucas, drummer Valentina Magaletti (Raime, Tomaga, Moin), and bassist Susumu Mukai (Zongamin) forming a potent creative core. “Afternoon X” coasts in on Mukai's lithe, Bill Laswell-esque bass line and Magaletti's skeletally funky beats while Lucas smears mutedly radiant keyboard and vibraphone over the laid-back, dub-funk foundation. The result is akin to DJ Spooky's “Galactic Funk,” but with Lucas's sweetly narcotized vocals lending the track an eerie intimacy. After obsessively listening to this low-key charmer, I'm looking forward to absorbing the rest of the album.

Zeynep Toraman, “Poems” (Obscure &Terrible)

Seattle label Obscure & Terrible (who released Domenica Diavoleria's excellent Forever Your Salesgirl last year) has come correct once more with In a Dark House, the debut album by Berlin-based Turkish musician Zeynep Toraman. O&T signed Toraman on the strength of an unsolicited demo, a rare occurrence in the music biz. 

In keeping with most of Obscure & Terrible's output, In a Dark House is serious headphone music. (I mean high-quality studio-level 'phones, not earbuds, Kyle. It's time to grow up.) As befits someone who's working on her composition doctorate at Harvard University, Toraman has created a rigorous set of tracks that will make the skulls of minimalist-drone fans hum with pleasure. The influence of French composer Éliane Radigue is apparent, but if you're going to take inspiration from anybody, you might as well do so from the GOAT. 

“Chimes” conjures unnerving suspense with a few sparse elements: fortepiano, etiolated string samples, and synths that evoke hospital equipment from the next room over. It's a paragon of less-is-more methodology. The 13-minute “Gardens” begins as if in a miniaturized war-zone skirmish, with faint thudding creating the illusion of helicopter blades chopping through an early-warning drone. Eventually, things turn mysterious and we seem to be coursing through the bloodstream of someone under duress. Maybe this is a new kind of organ music?

“Poems” is the album's peak, though. A fibrillating drone and intense clusters of birdsong morph into episodes of microscopic drama, with startling crescendos and starkly beautiful electric-guitar motifs rising from a foundation of wispy keening. Composing something this riveting at this rarefied a level is extremely difficult. Toraman has made a bold first statement in what should be a formidable career.