Release Date: Jul 22, 2016
Record label: Burger Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
That This is Gap Dream begins with a shrieking, pulsating tone like a sped-up busy signal is perhaps significant. Gabe Fulvimar’s insistence on affecting noises in far-reaching aural avenues is sometimes confusing, even when it sounds good. Opening a supposedly cathartic third record with a space-y chillwave instrumental in “Greater Find” is risky, sure, but the sentiment blends right in with Fulvimar’s M.O.
Gabe Fulvimar seems like a throwback to the glorious days of the mid-'80s, when four-track cassette machines were cheap and plentiful and socially awkward would-be indie rockers were busy multi-tracking themselves into imagined bands. Fulvimar is the man behind Gap Dream, and while his third album under that banner, 2016's This Is Gap Dream, makes use of more advanced recording technology, from the wheezy keyboards and clunky drum sounds to the sometimes hesitant vocals, from a musical standpoint this has vintage bedroom project written all over it. And that's not necessarily a bad thing; like the best of four-track obsessives, Fulvimar has a way with a melody, and the homegrown production style has a charm all its own.
Gabe Fulvimar's first record as Gap Dream in three years is confounding. After making his name pushing laid-back, slightly loony pop cuts on 2013's Shine Your Light, the Fullerton, California native has receded into the basement for three years and returned with This is Gap Dream, a record packed with dark, crackly lo-fi tracks.This is Gap Dream's at its best when it doesn't take it itself too seriously. "College Music," the album's lead single and best song, is a summer steamer with a bit of darkness around the edges, playing like some perverted mixture of Suicide and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Credit This Is Gap Dream for truth in advertising: it never lets you forget that Gap Dream is a one-man-band in his mid-30s living in a vinyl warehouse. 2013’s Shine Your Light didn’t either, although it documented Gabe Fulvimar uprooting his life in Ohio to move into Fullerton’s Burger Records. Three years later, This Is Gap Dream has an understandably more morose tone; “fuck it” has become “what the fuck have I done?” There might not be as much tolerance for this specific kind of existential crisis in 2016, but it can still result in compelling art—This Is Gap Dream might strive to be considered with The Meadowlands, Local H’s As Good As Dead, or Fred Thomas’ All Are Saved, where the depiction of music nerds and their midlife meltdowns can be perversely cathartic and universal due to their unflinching honesty.
On This Is Gap Dream, his third full-length offering for Burger Records, Gabe Fulvimar, who records as Gap Dream, showcases a new breadth and depth. It sounds like reaching this territory has taken its toll on him. This Is Gap Dream is about personal reinvention and, by extension, musical reinvention. That the album’s title would be a more fitting title for a debut is a perfect touch.
The Upshot: Exactly the kind of album you’d expect to emerge from a deserted cave full of records — dark, solitary, a little mad but extremely well-versed in musical style. Gap Dream’s Gabe Fulvimar made This Is Gap Dream while living in Burger Records’ vinyl warehouse, so if it’s a DIY bedroom recording, it’s a distinct and unusual kind. Like all home-recorded missives, it’s an eccentric personal statement unfettered by musical collaboration.