The latest release from local electronic artist, Dreamhouse. is titled violencewave. The album is a forlorn stare into the causes and effects of violence in light of the racially motivated 2022 Buffalo shooting. Regarding the tragedy, Jordan Walker, the beatmaker behind Dreamhouse., said:
“I was driving around North Buffalo. It’s not really over there, but it’s about a five-minute drive if I took the right streets.”
His girlfriend let him know there was an active shooter at Tops, and that was all he knew until he saw the full news coverage.
After this intense experience, Walker dove headfirst into the main theme of violencewave, expressing his feelings while discussing humanity-wide violence. While creating this auditory collage, he sourced samples that represent the inescapable anxiety surrounding violence.
The ambient intro track, “dreamers intuition,” features an undulating airy melody, glittery sample splashes, and a toaster oven-like dinging sound that signals the palatable project to come.
Towards the backend, a bluesy version of “Dixie,” an anthem for the Southern United States during the Civil War, is abruptly cut off by an aggressive gun cocking sound.
Following this is the project’s first spoken vocal sample saying, “Do you think violence is a big problem in today’s society?”
The next song, “cloud formation,” muses on this question, giving a whole new meaning to its serene electronic sounds. A tide of ambient synths recedes in and out, exemplifying the album’s constant push and pull of dreamy nostalgia and grim reality.
Dreamhouse. participates in multiple vaporwave subgenres, namely mallwave and signalwave. Mallwave is a lo-fi subgenre of vaporwave that aims to evoke nostalgia for malls, and other places of public commerce, while incorporating lobby or lounge music. The channel-surfing chaos of Signalwave pulls together commercials, radio samples, tv audio or other clips to create a crashing combination of music and sound.
He compared his self-appointed nickname, “Mr. Mallwave,” to his musical “Superman cape,” as he champions his craft by assuming a mantle. His other moniker “Signalwave Swordsman,” coincides with this album’s sound and the hanging swords pictured on the artwork.
Walker said, “Everyone needs a little aka.” He mentioned, “It’s very personal, this genre of music and this music that is on this record is very niche right now,” explaining how Dreamhouse. is mainly a form of self-expression rather than a project looking for a huge audience.
Although much of the album is about gun-violence and the uneasy feelings surrounding it, Walker said that “Hell” is about “a psychological self-inflicting violence.” Jordan’s experiences of seeing family members face addiction, a legitimate violence that is often unaddressed, inspired the track’s somber reality.
“Hell’s” blood-curdling acoustic guitar loop festers while the song tells a nightmarish story. A college athlete goes through a violent pipeline from injury, to intrusive surgery, to an oxycontin addiction, to intense withdrawal symptoms.
Later on, “ANGELSWINGZ97” is an ascension of twittering synths, further dramatized by tensile organs. The following “catharsis,” floats in with heavenly saxophone samples for one of the sweetest moments on the album, while a dirty lo-fi funk rhythm snaps into place on the next track, “eyes in the sky.”
Near the end of the album, the bustling drum and bass of “Wave Pool” feels like the project’s final confrontations with brutal realities before the afterlife-like contemplation on “deep water.”
Music with relevant messages like this, help our shared anxieties feel less lonely. Furthermore, Walker’s beats have even been featured on a bandcamp charity compilation supporting the people of Ukraine.
Walker, is also a drummer for three other local Buffalo projects, the Neetchy Band (check out our previous feature), Dishonored, as well as a brand new hardcore band, Jeweltone.
Check out violencewave on Apple Music, Spotify or Bandcamp.