Sandtimer – God
Quick – what’s the first thing you hear on opening track “God Is Coming”? It’s the same progression as that used by the first lyric in “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead!
God was released late in the first run of TKX Vault by Sandtimer, a multi-genre electronic music project that has touched ghost tech, hardvapour, vaporwave, and dreampunk from 2014 through 2017. Almost all of the Sandtimer releases are concept albums: Leave with Us described the circumstances surrounding the Heaven’s Gate cult, Vaporwave Is Dead was a sardonic “take that” to the titular genre via hardvapour, New Tokyo Blue Mood was dreampunk/techno dedicated to the eponymous Japanese city, and In Search of the Chessmaster was a semi-ambient release that detailed Sandtimer’s interactions with the enigmatic チェスマスター.1 God is no exception, being a hardvapour/dark ambient exploration of cults, religion, and mysticism with uneasy overtones. It’s also part of a larger concept arc incorporating a variety of Dream Catalogue releases from 2015 onwards that explores relationships between godliness, humanity, and technology – such as Prelude to Destruction by DARKPYRAMID, I Am Chesumasuta by チェスマスター, and various tracks such as “God Energy” by HKE.
Many songs on God featured heavily edited samples that sound somewhat psychotic, as if you’re listening in on a cultist’s deranged thoughts while communicating with his or her god – one who has no concept of human morality. The last minute of “Halleluyah” is dominated by several totally wrung-out blasts of noise that sound like a Godzilla roar but with zero kitsch. “Sex Ritual” isn’t nearly as sexy as the song implies, being one of the most ambient tracks on the album with stark lo-fi percussion and wordless female vocals slowly reaching toward a climax (okay, I guess it’s sexy after all). “Unsettling” is such an over-used word in describing this kind of music, but that’s an accurate description of God – this album is not scary, but it is discomfiting and dissonant.
In contrast to the high-energy cyberpunk music of Leave with Us or the dreampunk weirdness of In Search of the Chessmaster, God has its closest analogues in vaporgoth and hardvapour. The vaporgoth influence is strongest on tracks where Sandtimer melds dark ambient music with samplism techniques, such as with the piano melody of “Overlord” and the hellish soundtrack of “No Miserere Illis”. “Fire Dance” is the most outwardly-hardvapour track, featuring the genre’s characteristic industrial techno/gabber influence. A common trope of Sandtimer albums is the utilization of garbled spoken word bits (e.g. “Gate” on Leave with Us) – this makes an appearance on “Three Blind Nice”, which features a twisted rendition of the eponymous nursery rhyme.
As stated previously, God is part of a loose series of works that tie into other Dream Catalogue projects – most of which refer to each other in some manner. A blatant example is the very last track, “Black Cube Room”. It’s a spoken word bit that asks the listener questions concerning topics such as the “Messiah […] the darkness or the light” while “refuse[ing] to give direct answers”. This same figure notably appears at the end of another album via another spoken word portion: see the last minute of “And Now I Am Like You” from I Am Chesumasuta by チェスマスター. He is again present on several other albums released through Pyramids and TKX Vault.
Listen to God if you are interested in the mythos established by Sandtimer and affiliated projects. It is also recommended for fans of vaporgoth music from artists such as Chinese Hackers (as well as other projects on TKX Vault) and for fans of the ambient hardvapour music such as that available through HVRF.
1. God Is Coming – (4:24)
2. Cult Movements – (7:14)
3. Overlord – (1:29)
4. Halleluyah – (3:01)
5. Fire Dance – (3:00)
6. Three Blind Mice – (0:48)
7. No Miserere Illis – (6:09)
8. Dark Energy – (1:36)
9. Sex Ritual – (4:35)
10. The Tree of Life – (4:44)
11. Black Cube Room – (1:34)
1–SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO LIKE THEIR ARTISTS PSEUDONYMOUS– (Sandtimer and チェスマスター are both aliases of Dream Catalogue founder HKE, making the “collaboration” between the two artists even weirder in context.)