The God Program (26:45)

or, The Gospel According to Sid Meier

music and lyrics ©2019 by colin nicholls


The Internet blew my mind exactly twice:

In July 1994, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter, and we visited Mitchell at the university the following day and watched him scroll through astronomical imagery of the event taken by Hubble after the planet had rotated into view, and uploaded to the Internet. It seems standard operating procedure now, but at the time it felt like pure Sci-Fi.

In July 2002, users with NVIDIA graphics cards (that would include me) could download a 2.6MB application called Keyhole Earthviewer and use it to explore a 3D globe. Nowadays this technology is known as "Google Earth".

These two things were definitely in my head when I wrote the lyrics for this.

This project has been on the back-burner since 2007 but in 2018 I returned to working on the suite with freshly polished lyrics, and inevitably much-updated software...

Some of my 70's progressive rock influences are exposed pretty overtly in this suite.


Early Stages

5. Cathedral of Hosts

6. Enlightenment

7. Omnipotence in 17/8

8. Priority Interrupt

9. Fugue State

9. Head Crash

10. Cathedral (reprise)

Early Stages

One afternoon in 2002 I was playing around with various patches on the Korg TR-Rack, Roland Fantom, and D-550 synths and came up with some interesting themes. At the time, I was thinking about composing a long format suite on the subject of the Kon Tiki expedition - or, more accurately, the supposed pre-Columbian migration from South America to Easter Island and the Pacific Islands: Nautical astro-navigation; the journey of brave explorers on fragile vessels, launching into the unknown.

I recorded the fragments and saved them in my demo folder, for later review.

As of writing, I haven't pursued the "kon tiki" concept any further, but some of the musical ideas made their way into "The God Program" suite:

2002 Kon Tiki Theme 4b (0:48)

2002 Kon Tiki Theme 7 (0:29)

In 2003 I had the idea of a new song-cycle: This was the germ of "The God Program": I had a half-verse of lyrics, and a shuffle-rhythm of bass line. I also knew I wanted some kind of Jobson-esque instrumental middle section, full of Chapman Stick bass and disturbing time signatures:

2003 Piano Improvisation - Omnipotence (0:41)

2003 Omnipotence demo (0:59)

Inspired by some nice sounds in the Roland Fantom sythesizer. It establishes the overall feel, if not the notes

Other projects held my interest until 2007. As is the way, one afternoon I was improvising on a patch on the Roland Fantom - piano and strings - and returning to the rising piano "kon tiki"  motif, recorded a kind of stream of conciousness of inter-related themes, coming back to variations of the four note phrase.. some of the themes were from the old Kon Tiki demos.

2007 Piano Improvisation (Cathedral demo) (4:25)

Out of this improvised ramble the plan for almost the entire suite crystalized into sections, lyrics, and song titles. This improvisation would be refined into "Cathedral of Hosts", an overture of sorts for The God Program suite.

The first two thirds of the suite came together pretty quickly, the basic structure anyway. Here are the earliest demos I have in the archives, from 2007:

2007 Enlightenment demo (6:09)

I hadn't figured out how to do the vocals at this point. I have a number of later versions, vocal trials, in the achives (150 bmp; transposed up a 4th; etc) but nothing the world is ready to hear.

2007 Omnipotence demo (3:02)

This is actually pretty fully-realised. The solo in the middle is performed on a fretless nylon guitar, FWIW. I removed the frets myself, and filled the slots with wood slivers.

2007 Priority Interrupt demo (2:14)

2007 Fugue Test pianos (0:38)

Earliest version I have. I tried many variations and orchestrations before settling on the final one.

By the end of 2007 I'd run out of energy and inspiration. Apart from the vocals, I probably thought it was "nearly done", ha ha. This was also around the time I realized that if I was ever to release an actual finished CD of our music, I would need to perform a "mental reset" and focus on a different set of songs. That adventure is covered elsewhere on this site...

Cathedral of Hosts (3:28)

YouTube Video


Production Notes

Instrumentation (in order of appearance):

Enlightenment (6:00)


Our protagonist gets their executive time interrupted by a prompt to download some exciting new software...

Production Notes

Instrumentation (in order of appearance):


the angel arrived while i was watching streaming video

with digital download, registration free

”we promise you efficient use of RAM

anti-virus; the End of Spam”

The end-user license was one click to agree

installation replaced the operating system

a shiny desktop portal, clean and new

”you see the Earth afloat in Space

a planet in a mouse embrace”

nations, towns, exposed for my review

rotate! zooming in! anticipating future sin

placing every judgement call for free

chance and fate are second-rate

when Nature gets corrective surgery

infinite zoom is my New Year's resolution

24 hours, real-time TV

”channels yielding holy visions

assisting people in decisions”

lessons in a new theology

this Little Piggy? thinks he deserves an upgrade

the Big Bad Wolf's about to commit a crime

”with choices you decide they take

fix their major life mistakes”

Doom™, a HALO™, or Once Upon A Time

media pirates, let it rip, with a burnt-out bargain chip

peer-to-peer nets linking to their souls

Evercrack; Sim City™ hacks;

their Second Life™ is under my control

with a flick of the mouse, i turn my attention to Jupiter

the sentient gas-bags had never seen the light

”under coloured bands of cloud

a curious glow, beneath the shroud”

alien minds approaching in the night

Jovian thoughts and reasoning? incomprehensible!

in a moment of gravity, i get to call the shots.

”a passing comet's halo light

makes an impact, fusion-bright”

illumination really hits the spot

Omnipotence in 17/8 (2:57)


Yes, the title is partially a reference to an existing track by another much-loved prog rock band...

Production Notes

Instrumentation (in order of appearance):

Priority Interrupt (2:06)


Our protagonist begins to suspect all is not as it seems.

Production Notes



take me to the green screen

put me in a different scene

choose another theme

could it be a lucid dream?

Fugue State (0:42)


Ideally this would be a separate track but in this world of streaming and randomized playback, I think it made more sense to attach it to the beginning of Head Crash.

Production Notes


Head Crash (4:31)


Things do not end well for our protagonist. They should have read the EULA.

Production Notes



the medium saturates, wet with sex and violence

fills the cache of memory, with void

”cracked and broken dual displays

liquid crystal pixels pray”

a storm of sibilance, losing the signal to noise

by the end of the month, my 30-day trial had expired

exhausted, over-clocked, and out of time

”chaos and confusion rule

your mind reduced to molecules”

poetic justice never seems to rhyme

reality recedes

master slaves begin to feed

pressing random keys

Shakespeare from the chimpanzee

disconnect the screen

hiding from the fax machine

normal now obscene

endless looping sub-routines

Cathedral (reprise) (1:13)


When I was compiling the components of the "God Program" suite, I was going through the archives to see if there were any "good parts" that I'd forgotten about, and realized the first minute of the original piano improvisation made a pretty nice end cap to the suite, and so I re-created it for "Cathedral (reprise)".

Production Notes