So this was a pleasant surprise.
As you know, I’m a sucker for album art. It always intrigues me. I care a great deal about artwork and how it’s juxtaposed with music. It sure as hell influences my LP purchases too.
When I saw the album art for Death Dream, I was viewing from my phone. It looked dark and grungy in the thumbnail so I’m like, “Hell yeah, let’s do it.”
When I reached the actual page for this album, I realized that the album art was actually a grimier take on the well-established vaporwave A E S T H E T I C.
For those who have been uninitiated into the wild world of vaporwave…
Replete with Roman busts, grid-like patterns, Japanese kanji, neon color palettes, and Windows ’96-style imagery, vaporwave is a music genre that is literally focused more on style rather than substance. With that being said, there is A LOT of throway garbage that the genre has produced.
If you’re curious to dive into this mysterious realm, the album below is to vaporwave as what Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is to jazz: Not only a hallmark of the genre, but a good place to start.
Anyways, holy shit, I really digress.
The point of all that context-setting was to illustrate my surprise upon seeing the cover of Trevor Something’s Death Dream. It contains a lot of design tropes for a run-of-the-mill vaporwave album, however, it’s very dark; almost tortured. It’s kind of like a post-vaporwave thing or an elegy to the genre’s (again, alleged) death.
I’m going to be honest here, though. I’m a huge fan of the production coming from this thing, and I’m not exactly huge on the vocals or lyrics. But this is seriously one of those cases where I can easily bypass those elements because the sounds are just so, I don’t know, consuming.
The dirty, cold, and expansive synth work here is just a joy to listen to. It’s very much an amalgam of vaporwave ideas (I saw “ideas” because the vaporwave influences are fairly light) informed by sounds that are directly influenced by dark ambient and techno. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE how seamless the track transitions are. I’m totally a sucker for shit like that.
It wasn’t until I heard this dude’s voice – who happens to be incredibly talented, seeing as though he wrote, produced, performed, recorded, mixed, and made artwork for the album – that I realized I’ve heard him before on the track below.
I fell into the Simpsonwave trend pretty hard. Granted, my interest was ephemeral as fuck, but there was just something about it that I found so beautiful, so haunting, and even kinda sad.
Don’t even get me started with the achingly gorgeous video below. Never before has The Simpsons been portrayed in such a depressing, desolate caricature.
As the title would imply, the video is meant to frame Homer as burnt-out, beat-down father battling a mid-life crisis amidst a serious spell of alcoholism.
Ok, well, maybe that’s entirely personal conjecture, but what’s being communicated here is something seriously existential. And I love that kind of shit.
Also, I think I’m done for apologizing for my digressions. I seemingly can’t avoid tangents.
Back to the album in question, Death Dream.
Like I said, Trevor Something’s voice and lyrics leave a lot to be desired. But they naturally take the back burner anyways, as they did on that Simpsonwave track. His soundscapes are truly something else. And for this release, that’s what keeps me coming back again and again.