HyperGanesh – Stay Awake
Album: Stay Awake
Type: Full-length (LP)
Release date: 17 June 2014
Label: Dream Catalogue
- Digital download (Dream Catalogue, 2014)
HKE founded Dream Catalogue at the start of 2014, and it quickly became one of the recognizable labels in the history of the vaporwave scene. For artists and consumers, “vaporwave” and “Dream Catalogue” were complementary terms – if not somewhat exchangeable. Coming after a period when many members of the community believed that vaporwave was becoming too reliant on overt samplism and becoming bloated due to mainstream attention through MTV and Tumblr, Dream Catalogue represented a return to the idea of a curated vaporwave space while also releasing albums that pushed vaporwave sounds by incorporating ambient, glitch, and noise influences with a focus on original music – which would eventually give way to the “dreampunk” aesthetic.
But in its early days, Dream Catalogue was very much a vaporwave label. For one, it thrived on pseudonymity: some projects still have been neither outed nor claimed, and there are not a few artists who released a single work and nothing further – either on Dream Catalogue or other labels. HyperGanesh is one of those, with the full-length Stay Awake dropping in June 2014. Stay Awake received only a digital download issue and nothing further.1 Along with almost fifty other albums, it was completely deleted from the Dream Catalogue roster in mid-2015 due to issues with sampling as the label became more prominent and was releasing larger runs of music.2
This is a purely classic-style vaporwave album in sixteen short tracks, not even cracking a half-hour in run-time. Samples consists of stretched-out bits from adult contemporary and pop music with further reverb and some minor electronic effects. HyperGanesh made no attempt to fix the resulting degradation; since all samples were digitally sourced, a fuzzy texture accompanies each track because digitally lengthening tracks does not magically fill in spaces between notes with sounds based on what the program thinks might be in there. Tracks start and end when the sample has played itself out rather for any real reason denoted in traditional musicality, and some include spoken word introductions.3
Stay Awake strongly represents the early Dream Catalogue paradigm, but it’s also a good demonstration of where the label would one day end up. The album artwork features a surreal, futuristic-ish scene in a city, which would become the primary template for the 2814 series of albums. Ending track “16” incorporates reverse sampling and phasing. Notably, the album is free of all-caps text or Japanese characters except for the first track, and the samples feature notable Western media such as Peter Fonda’s famous “We wanna get loaded!” line from the 1966 Roger Corman film The Wild Angels.4
This is not to say that Stay Awake is a conscious decision to move toward different aesthetics, or that there was an artistic collective at this time seeking to be tastemakers. If anything, Stay Awake is part of a series of works that were made for no reason than their creators liked vaporwave music. Stay Awake is still a vaporwave album of goofy plunderphonics – but in retrospect, it’s hard not to pick out little things that showed tentative steps toward new places. Enjoy it as classic-style and perhaps don’t think as hardly as I am here.
1. 保持清醒 – (1:34)5
2. Restless – (1:36)
3. Awake – (1:30)
4. Can’t – (1:50)
5. Lolo – (1:51)
6. Nap Time – (1:13)
7. Lift Me – (1:44)
8. Sanyo – (1:43)
9. Why Do You – (2:26)
10. Candles – 92:05)
11. Slow – (1:04)
12. I Want – (1:55)
13. Wade – (1:27)
14. Sweet Dreams – (2:35)
15. Right Next to Me – (2:00)
16. 16 – (1:58)
1… which was (and still is) common both for vaporwave as a whole, even in the age circa-2017/2018 where it seems even the most limited of label releases still receive a cassette edition of ten or twenty.
2HKE’s changing musical tastes also had a likely influence on this decision, or at least made it easier to do. From late 2015 through early/mid-2017, Dream Catalogue was strongly linked with the “hardvapour” movement and also released more experimental ambient/electronica albums.
3A popular trope at this point in vaporwave history, especially on larger labels like Fortune 500 and Business Casual.
4Notable sampled by Primal Scream on their 1990 single “Loaded” (present on the full-length Screamadelica.
5Japanese translation: “Stay awake”