Providence screamo/post-hardcore band Dreamwell have released “Blighttown Type Beat,” the second single from their upcoming Prosthetic Records debut In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside Youand this song is even greater proof than lead single “Obelisk of Hands” that this new album marks a clear progression from 2021’s Modern Grotesque. This song in particular was released to help make that point, as vocalist KZ Staska explains in a new essay penned about this song. That essay makes its debut right here.
We have mentioned a few times now that In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You is a radical evolution of our sound and a pretty substantial change from how we did things on Modern Grotesque. We chose our singles, and their release order, to reflect this. As I said before, “Obelisk of Hands” was the song that was meant to bridge the gap between the two records and how one of you who is already pretty well familiar with Modern might anticipate things to sound. It certainly sounds like a song that could have been on that record – we started writing it during the writing of that album even – but it’s still notably different. An evolution, but not one that strays too far from what you already know from us. “Blighttown Type Beat”, then, is the first song off the record we chose to let you know that we are not just putting out Modern Grotesque 2.
“Blighttown Type Beat” represents our evolution since the last album in more than just the fact that it’s far weirder and more chaotic than anything we did in the past. Our evolution is not just a sonic one, but extends to the way we wrote the songs together. I was not in the band for the majority of the songwriting for Modern Grotesqueand being able to write this song in physical space together (at least when Justin wasn’t in Iowa for college) with a full lineup made writing a much more collaborative and involved process. “Blighttown Type Beat” might be the song that this is most true for, as the way we wrote it would have literally been impossible to do when my bandmates were writing the bulk of our first album.
“Blighttown” was written from the vocals out. This is to say that I had written the lyrics, and then determined a vocal pattern, without any music to accompany them to (you could call it a cappella if you really wanted to, but please don’t do that to me). I then would sing the song part by part on my own, the others finding and creating structure and building on it in response. For the most part, Anthony would find a beat that made sense, then Ryan would write a rhythm riff to go with it. Jump to the next section, figure out how the bridge the gaps, and repeat until we have the loose structure of a song. Then everyone got to expand their creativity and add extra elements to their playing until it became the song it is now. There were some minor changes to how I did vocals for the breakdown at the end, but otherwise the song actually wound up coming out exactly the way I outlined it with my vocals.
I don’t think we really started working on the new album when I wrote this song. I’m actually not even entirely confident that Modern Grotesque was even out yet, but if it was it was only a few months. My job at the time was sort of like being a bouncer but for a Whole Foods and I spent a lot of time just sitting on the display of seltzer waters by the front door and staring at my phone. I had recently ended a relationship and in the months following the breakup started really reflecting on the nature of the relationship, realizing that I really only ever entered it because I was lonely and it was available to me. Nothing about us made sense as a romantic couple, something I knew at the start and even said to her when she told me she was interested in taking our relationship further. But she kept insisting, and eventually I broke down. Better than being alone I guess. Except it wasn’t. It was exhausting, I lived every day of my life clashing with the person I lived with. It was destructive to my mental health and to my perception of what a romantic relationship felt like. So, in my spare time at work, I started jotting lines down.
“Blighttown Type Beat” tells the story of our narrator character finding himself in an abandoned town, standing in the shadow of a dilapidated house at the bottom of a near-dry basin. He senses something coaxing him into the basement, and when he enters he discovers years of water damage and traces of people who had died there. The inhabitants of the home had intentionally allowed the house to flood, and chose to perish in the waters. The emptiness of the home felt too much for them to bear, and they found a way to fill it – caring not that their solution would kill them in the end. Our narrator then grapples with his dread as he starts to hear the same voices that compelled them to kill themselves in that basement telling him to join them.
I feel like we really were able to capture the theme of this song in all of its elements. The lyrics, obviously, but the music too. There is something haunting and eerie about the way it sounds, and there’s a lot of ominous tension in the muted chords that build the song up. But at the same time, there’s an almost cheerful energy hiding deep underneath it all, being consumed by the deeds of the song. You could probably dance to this song if you really wanted to, yet it remains frenzied and neurotic and anxious despite this. The song’s energy suggests that it should be upbeat and exciting and overall positive, but it is tarnished by a pervasive sense that things are somehow wrong – just like a relationship that should not be. The music video serves to drive this point home in a way that could be a little on the nose – interrupting home video of a wedding with gruesome flashes of eyeball surgery and house fires.
All in all, I think this song really does its job as a single showing how much we have built upon what we established in the past. We took the core sound we developed on Modern Grotesque and expanded it by being more collaborative, more present as a full group during writing, and being more detailed in our conceptualization and artistic vision on all levels, not only in how we present the whole album, but on a song-by-song basis as well. I hope that you will find that this has resulted in an album with a lot more depth and a lot more exploration in the sounds and kind of songs we are willing to write when the record drops on 10/20. -KZ
Catch Dreamwell on tour soon, including NYC shows with Ithaca and Husbandry at Saint Vitus on September 24 and with Gospel, .gif from godand Misericorde at TV Eye on November 12.
Dreamwell — 2023 Tour Dates
Sept. 24, 2023 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar ~
Oct. 21, 2023 – Providence, RI @ Dusk <
Nov. 2, 2023 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus *
Nov. 3, 2023 – Toronto, ON @ Bar Orwell *
Nov. 4, 2023 – Detroit, MI @ Pleasant Underground **
Nov. 5, 2023 – Chicago, IL @ Downstairs Subt **
Nov. 7, 2023 – Fargo, ND @ Aquarium ***
Nov. 8, 2023 – Minneapolis, MN @ Seward Café ***
Nov. 9, 2023 – TBA – Milwaukee, WI ***
Nov. 10, 2023 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle ***
New Moon. 11, 2023 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Roboto Project ***
Nov. 12, 2023 – Brooklyn, NY @ TV Eye ****
<=w/ Usurp Synapse & Frail Body
**=w/ Bleached Cross
***=w/ Blind Equation