Sacred Tapestry – Shader (2012)

In the final installment of New Dreams Ltd., Ramona Andra Xavier released Shader in 2012 under the name Sacred Tapestry. Although she continues to make music today, Shader was supposed to be Xavier’s final vaporwave project. Despite its historical significance, I found this album difficult to listen to. While the album has only 6 tracks, it runs just short of an hour. Despite how extremely experimental this release was, it has some redeeming factors and hidden gems throughout.

While most of the album is much more “out” than most vaporwave, the first and last track of Shader say a lot about the album as a whole. The first track, “LD • VHD” is an exhausting 7 minutes and 52 seconds. It starts off with a very grand and terrifying drone that is suddenly joined by a deep, booming Japanese voice. Everything about the track is incredibly dense. The indecipherable voice paired with the ominously repeating synth parts makes the listener feel like they’re trying to run in a dream while being overrun with a wave of molasses. In other words, it’s terrifying and I don’t like it. For the rest of the track, everything is repeated, slowed down, sped up, looped, and warped beyond recognition. The unpredictability of the editing is incredibly unsettling. While being predictable in any art form is sometimes frowned upon, having an apparent lack of form of structure in this song is really off-putting.

The middle four tracks are much more accessible and listenable. “花こう岩Cosmorama” strays from the typical vaporwave style found on Floral Shoppe, yet it is still nice to listen to. There’s not a whole lot of editing or manipulation on this track; its compositional style is built on the progression and stacking of more parts on top of the existing Blade Runner-esque synth arpeggio and bass track. “ドリーミー” fits right in with the stylistic differences that Xavier employed on 札幌コンテンポラリー (Contemporary Sapporo). Its use of a simple synthetic drum loop with a gradually building series of textures and patterns makes for a decent vaporwave composition.

One of the more interesting tracks on this album is “新たな夢Spirited Child (Color Ocean Sky)”, a track that shares part of its name with a Vektroid album entitled Color Ocean Sky. This composition takes minuscule samples Floral Shoppe’s “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー” and pushes them down a flight of stairs while a playful synth line fiddles about. There’s a lot going on here: Ramona Andra Xavier, posing as Sacred Tapestry, samples a song by Macintosh Plus (Ramona Andra Xavier), and references an album by Vektroid (Ramona Andra Xavier) all while paying an odd homage to Diana Ross. What was once recognizable as a staple in vaporwave music is now mangled and  warped by its creator’s alter-ego.

The true highlight of Shader is the fourth track, “移住”. This track showcases some of Xavier’s production prowess in the way that she mixes and creates synths. The gorgeously hypnotic chord progression gets slowly overrun by more distorted figures and motifs. The song twists itself into a false ending only to return not a second later.

Shader doesn’t stand among my favorite vaporwave albums, nor does it really compare to Xavier’s other works. However, I did enjoy some of the more accessible and standard compositions in the middle of the album. One thing that’s important to note is the wide array of stylistic differences Xavier uses throughout the New Dreams Ltd. project in addition to the wide variety in compositional style on Shader. Just because this album was released in a series of other vaporwave albums doesn’t mean that all the tracks on the album are truly vaporwave, nor does it mean that they have to be.

Favorite Track: 移住

Sacred Tapestry - Shader

2 responses to “Sacred Tapestry – Shader (2012)”

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