An expansive realm blossoms from both organic and electronic elements on the artist’s latest release
Little by little the atmosphere seeps in with sweeps of rain plummeting towards a sprawling landscape. Keys reveal dashes colour and depth within the downpour, bright chords poking in and out of the torrential rainfall. desert sand feels warm at night use of the introductory track is as masterful as ever. 永遠の希望 (Eternal hope) has all those quintessentially slushwave characteristics that inspire excitement and eagerness to hear more in the listener, whilst augmenting that sound in newfangled ways. In this particular intro, a bass drum begins to hammer down. Heavier than what we’d usually expect from the artist, it asserts itself in the track from the moment it begins, bringing with it slow, calculated cymbals and snares that languish in the moist environment. The track gives little away, with a slow and calculated delivery and absence of vocals or any leading melody. What can be heard is a leaning towards a new age sensibility in its general tune. The bass that drifts in instils a beautiful openness to the melodic nature of the track. It invites a sharp, improvisational melody line that rests gently between the lower end and the light cymbal-work.
The keys take the lead on 彼に続け、一人の彼のために (Following him, for him alone). A placid dance between warm keys and gossamer twinkling lead piano. The sequence has a hypnotic quality to it, as we hear the two parts weave in and out of each other. Where the wonderful melodies led initially, the percussion and bass drive onward toward as they carry the track along the same note progression, allowing the keys to fall behind and become more decorative. Icy percussion and sharp rhythmic chords are diluted by warm trills, before a piano sequence breaks away to slow down the momentum. A melding of an emotive and euphoric sound with a laidback, lounge-like feeling. A prospect that sounds unattainable, but that desert sand makes seem so effortless.
Bass from the beginning sets an austere tone on 闇の中を旅して光を探す (Travel in the dark and look for the light). Streams of chimes sparkle before being submerged into the rumbling low notes. One can really hear the poignancy of the track’s title as it feels as if the dark is encroaching around us; we keep our head pinned to the sky desperately following this twinkling lines of starlight.
Melodies twirl a fair distance away, sweeping more and more into view like some beautiful spirit through a wood of large, arching trees. On 新世界を上昇させて (Raise the new world), the effects that desert sand pushes the percussion through cause it to become this beautiful lacy, ever-changing entity. Sometimes seeming solid and tangible, and other times its frequency changing drastically as it evaporates in front of us. Much like a few of the tracks previously, the kick drum plays a main part. The artist often likes to let the melodies bloom and take the track wherever they may lead, but here we hear a more guided structure where the bass drum plots the way for the light melody to follow along. Despite the track being more than 20 minutes long, the poise that desert sand approaches it with is incredible. As vocals emerge carrying this mythic emotive power, it is a catharsis that the listener does not even know they are waiting for. Lulling us into a sense of safety as the instrumentation travelled through its processes slowly, however these touching vocal performances waited patiently in the wings. The singing provides a melancholic twist to the track, the melody of the voices much more longing and sad than the docile bell chords and tunes. There is a classical or operatic mood that comes about through the inclusion of the vocals. They stand proud amidst the percussion that seeps in and out of reality, occasionally deep tones of voice push through past everything else. They even uproot the instrumentation, driving it onward into a more longing sequence with panpipes and far-reaching notation. There’s a tranquil desperation that is communicated, as if we were running toward heaven moving at an impossibly slow pace as the afterlife blossoms in front of us.
The voices stay around as 彼はここにいる (He is here) begins with aptly beckoning vocal melodies before we fall into a somnambulistic sequence. The track is comparatively very brief compared to the previous track. The artist gives us a short, sharp experience driven forward by the percussion and vocals.
The sound of rain reinstates itself, tinged again by the emotive effects of distant keys and pads. Sprays of purple and gold showing through the precipitation like some otherworldly rainbow. Just before we burst through into the main sequence of instrumentation, some of the notes move a little off-kilter as desert sand displays a cunning attitude toward melody. The off-chords transform the track from being a straightforward heartfelt experience to one that is theatrical, appearing on a grand stage in front of a silent audience. The track has a tremendous amount of character enshrined in it, from quiet, reclusive moments to proud, performative passages. 新世界に新しい人生を導かせて (Let the new world lead a new life) has an incredible vocal part draped over its melancholic instrumentation, reappearing just as the sequence comes to an end to drive the track confidently around again. A sound akin to a back-up band takes things through the final third of the song, coming to the aid of that heartbroken vocalist who was standing alone on stage. The drummer, bassist and a selection of pianists all lit up behind the vocalist in glorious warm lights. Bringing to a close what is one of the more theatrical songs in desert sand’s catalogue.
A more electronic sound finds its way through to the listener on 千の太陽の情熱で魂を照らせ (Illuminate your soul with the passion of a thousand suns). Warbling synth keys meeting in the dark with muffled percussion playing out a calculated rhythm. The tune is soulful and starlit, driving forward with a triumphant emotion as the bass storms in. A low-pitched saxophone lingers near the bottom of the mix before being followed by a beautifully-toned vocal performance. The long notes of the voice laying themselves perfectly over the slow-moving percussion and twinkling keys. The track seems to find its way from an isolated, electronic affair to a graceful full-band crescendo without explicitly shifting in mood. desert sand slowly dilutes the two sounds together patiently over the runtime.
私たちと一緒に来る(Come with us), the final call from the New World Disciples. A meditative stream of notes slowly gains a trickling momentum as tinny euphoria swishes in the middle distance. The beginning of the track sits in the higher frequency range, and with that dip down into bass having been a breathtaking moment on a great deal of the tracks so far, the listener can only imagine what is in store for them as the whistling notes begin to take shape. Numb, glissando chords begin to hum from the background, their shape and delicate nature hidden in the sheer lowness of the pitch. Augmenting the simple sequence into a heartbreaking sound. The track sustains this dreamy zen state, but this throbbing sadness slowly becomes the overarching characteristic. Things open up, the percussion inching into the aether as the swathe of sound falls away and reveals sombre piano notes. Though the sound is volatile and overwhelming, there is so much soul in each part. There are moments of real fragile quietness. Towards the end, that same repeating high-pitched melody reappears alongside the low chords. A figure on a distant sand dune turns away from us, and in beginning to walk into the pained purple vista, fades into nothingness leaving us staring toward the looming sky.
It feels as though each album and release provides a step upwards that desert sand feels warm at night happily takes. At moments on 新世界の弟子たち (New World Disciples) a patient sensibility is demonstrated that isn’t as forthright on albums before it. A broad range of sounds now seem to come fairly naturally to the artist, moving from simple but explorative electronic moments to phases that emit the organic power of a full ensemble. All is lacquered with that recognisable wash of emotive delay and reverb that causes the listener to fall into some beautiful dream world.