Mysterious and melancholic – that’s what Luk Ka-ngai, guitarist of ambient-instrumental group Vanish, said of his band’s name. “It summarises our style. We use music to capture the things that are vanishing.”
The band came together a year ago, when 28-year-old Luk, who goes by Kobe, recorded a handful of demos with bass and keyboard player Leung On-kai, aka Angel, 22. HKDI student Cheng Tsz-kit, 20, aka Sleep Devil, joined the group as their drummer last December to complete the line-up.
Despite their name, it was hard to ignore the three-piece when they debuted at the Underground x Volkswagen Battle of the Bands semi-finals in February. They may not have quite progressed to the final, but they succeeded in impressing judges and crowd members nevertheless.
“We learned so much from our shortcomings and we were inspired by the other bands’ performances,” Kobe reminisced.
The trio’s sound could fit into many genres, particularly shoegaze, dreamwave and post-rock. They employ great dynamic shifts, or as Kobe put it: “It’s reverb-soaked and ambiguous, with some crescendos.”
Listeners will hear similarities to bands like Explosions in the Sky, Cocteau Twins or We Lost The Sea, all of whom – and more – have made an impact on Vanish.
Kobe, a former HKBU student, spoke about their songwriting process, explaining, “Musically, each of us like different genres, but everything can be inspirational. We use a minimalist approach in our songwriting, usually starting with a certain theme like nature, and then we [begin to] jam for song ideas. Then we discuss what to refine and what needs to be added.”
So far, Vanish has six original songs. Their first demo, Waves, is available to stream on the band’s Bandcamp page alongside newer tracks Bloom and Norwegian Wood.
When Young Post asked about any impending single or EP releases, Kobe said they felt no pressure to rush the process.
“We are recording some home-made demos, so we may refine them and release them when they’re ready,” he said. “Hopefully we can play more gigs as more people come across our music.”
Despite having played together for only a short period of time, the trio know a lot about the scene around them. Each member has previously played in different bands, and they’ve all been to many gigs over the years. They’ve also seen the scene change as time has gone by.
“About five years ago, the indie band scene was more vibrant and diverse,” Kobe said. “There were lots of excellent bands in different genres. Now though, it seems like the band scene has waned a bit.”
Not one for pessimism, however, the guitarist concluded, “We hope there will be a revival soon.”
Vanish’s next performance is a free entry show at Y-Concept on Saturday 27 May. They will be playing alongside local acts Marnuts, Musically and Macau band Cancer Game.