Sandfingers is the new guise for two third of The Chasms who are “on hiatus”, and this spooky relative of the band is distinctly familiar while also being cold, distant and apart. Sandfinger still hinge on eerie and abstract spoken word performances, but instead of the blitzkrieg of distortion that characterize the Chasms we get muted drones, Delian electronics and duelling saxophones recorded in abandoned railway tunnels. It might be tempting to interpret that as the sort of drivel that often gets purveyed on press releases but I’m not being metaphorical, this album (it seems) was largely recorded live and at a variety of outdoor locations which may be why it has such an idiosyncratic and nocturnal feel. If you listen carefully you can hear birdsong at various points and you even get an (almost) duet on the long, melancholy electronics of “The Lake, The Trees” between the sweet song of a Blackbird (I think) and the funereal arpeggio that the narration takes place over.
If you were going to look for an entry point into the Sandfingers world, this might be a place to start because I absolutely love this track but it also acts as an ambassador for the rest of the album. Nature sounds, natural reverb, live improvisation, cryptic story telling and a splash of dissonant saxophone just to make the cocktail even more inexplicable. It hadn’t really occurred to me but after one of the members of the band posted a Flying Saucer Attack track on the Box of Faces the other day I realized that all these ingredients should have been a lot more familiar to me, because listening to “Puzzlebox” I realized that this album is like a lost Flying Saucer Attack album…or maybe what they’d sound like today if they’d kept at it but mining this kind of insanely un-commercial, vaguely pastoral “rural psychedelia” is never going to make anyone rich.
To me that’s a great shame because this album is intellectually satisfying, emotionally rewarding and musically challenging all at once. It is also a very distinct “journey” and if you allow yourself to listen to it in the right environment, at the right time it will completely erase all traces of the modern world for 56 minutes. And because the band are doing this for their own non-commercial motivation it’s available for free from their Bandcamp with the promise of as many albums as they feel like making coming at us as often as they feel inspired to do so. Long live Sandfingers.