Ancient Sandtimer – Stay Away
Artist: Ancient Sandtimer
Album: Stay Away
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 24 October 2016
Label: Vault EVE
- Digital download (Vault EVE, 2016)
By this point in vaporwave history, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of releases that have been lost to the sands of time. Whether this be by abandonment, by deletion, or by nescience, vaporwave albums are not free from the same lapses into obscurity experienced within every other genre of music – and the reputation of the Internet as a permanent archive of material belies the intransigence of digital information.
Stay Away was almost one such album, although it might have been so were it not for its connection to Dream Catalogue. This is the only release from Ancient Sandtimer and the only release ever on Vault EVE, which originally announced itself to be one of the successors to an imprint of Dream Catalogue called TKX Vault (formerly Tokyo Exchange) that released experimental vaporwave and vaporwave-influenced works. TKX Vault closed in the summer of 2016,1 with Vault EVE announced shortly afterward. Vault EVE signaled the beginning of a mythos that colored the releases within the other Vault imprints of the next several months. The story went that each Vault was a collection of rare and old archives of media discovered, hidden, and rediscovered by a group of associated artists, with the most recent rediscovery being performed by an organization called the HEKAT Company. HEKAT purported to archive and decode each release as it was unearthed – but with Vault EVE, something went wrong, and HEKAT announced that Vault EVE was “too dangerous” and would henceforth be closed.2
And so, Stay Away was the only real part of Vault EVE, and when Vault TKX (and similarly short-lived Vault XYO, which only had three albums) became the main focus of Dream Catalogue’s creative energies that weren’t appropriate for release on the parent label, Stay Away was pretty much forgotten except for the few scant Bandcamp users who picked it up when it first dropped.3 The artist name is a reference to Sandtimer, one of the main aliases of HKE and an early name in hardvapour (circa Fall 2015) and dreampunk. Stay Away does not make many oblique references to the other Sandtimer or Dream Catalogue releases – it’s far too concerned with warning the listener not to listen à la Lemony Snicket – but it does reference 2015’s Leave with Us on Nirvana Port (another Dream Catalogue imprint). The final track on the former album is “Recycle Forever”, which features a noisy two minutes of garbled electronica akin to “Recycle” from the latter, which was also its final track. The other tracks alternate between a noise/drone and noise/dreampunk mix, with “Frozen Dream Cycle” having a nightcore moment that lapses into dark ambient for a few seconds before starting up again.
Dream Catalogue’s series of Vault imprints have always been an enigma within vaporwave and the modern cyberpunk music scene. Stay Away certainly has a place within that superlative, and the circumstances of its release heighten the already-strange music within its half-hour of run-time. Perhaps there are other vaporwave releases that lie within their own time vaults waiting to be discovered by one random Bandcamp page at a time.
1. The Atlantis Company (Opening Logo) – (00:34)
2. Curse – (4:14)
3. Animator Expander – (2:08)
4. Sleeping Beast – (2:24)
5. Frozen Dream Cycle – (2:56)
6. Lens – (3:44)
7. Deep Transformation – (2:40)
8. New Vision – (2:17)
9. But Ultimately You Are Always Our Food – (2:16)
10. Recycle Forever – (5:28)
1TKX Vault would be opened again in mid-2017 for a ten-album run.
2The HEKAT Company would later be dismantled after TKX Vault’s re-opening. Unfortunately, HEKAT exclusively made announcements through a since-wiped Twitter account, so there is no record of their statements outside of sketchy Twitter archiving sites.
3… and if/when Dream Catalogue decides to revisit the other Vaults, which could always happen. Dream Catalogue has revisited stranger projects in the past.