If there’s one thing Gabe Fulvimar can’t be accused of it’s being predictable. After following his project Gap Dream’s psychedelic rock-inspired self-titled 2012 record with the largely synth-influenced 2013 album Shine Your Light, it was difficult to foresee where the ever-evolving multi-instrumentalist would draw inspiration from next. Although the Ohio native’s choice to title his third proper full-length This Is Gap Dream may lead fans to deduce Fulvimar has finally settled on a singular sound, don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover.
As if squeezing out the last electro vestiges of Shine Your Light, This Is Gap Dream begins with the synth-heavy “Greater Find”. With its retro keyboards, disco lasers, and handclaps, the three-minute dancefloor-ready instrumental teases by withholding Fulvimar’s pleasantly lackadaisical vocals and clever lyrics. The ironically titled “Rock And Roll” follows and goes even further to obfuscate Gap Dream aficionados’ expectations by tying a spooky, pulsing Krautrock beat to patiently sung, reverb-heavy vocals that have Fulvimar reintroducing himself by singing, “Well it’s been a long time since I lost control on the open road, well it’s been a long time since I sold my soul for the devil’s gold.” From here, This Is Gap Dream takes a sharp turn.
With a triumphant lead guitar part and a simple rhythm tapped out on an inexpensive-sounding drum kit, the album’s first single, “College Music”, builds gloriously, harmonizing Fulvimar with himself until the song grows into a lo-fi pocket masterpiece. “24 Hour Token” utilizes a similarly simple yet effective melody held together with pleasant vocal harmonies (at one point incorporating the Serenity Prayer) and just enough room hiss to create a surprisingly intimate moment. The record veers slightly off course with the moody “Party Foul” which with its atonal vocals and distorted guitar feels somewhat out of place. Fortunately, the first half of the album is saved by the inclusion of the jaunty, organ-infused “Jacky”.
Minus the aforementioned synthesizer-soaked pair that open the album, the second half of This Is Gap Dream continues in a style comparable to the first. “Golden Dreams” finds Fulvimar stretching his legs vocally as he welcomingly, uncharacteristically sustains notes in a way unheard on previous releases. The trippy instrumental intermission “Judy Let Me Roam” and the quaint “Shy Boy” lead into the record’s charming finale, “A Stranger To Myself”, a concise closer that, if taken literally, may be Fulvimar’s way of saying Gap Dream can never be nailed down, and he has no idea where his musical whim will take him next.
The majority of songs on This Is Gap Dream are more personal both musically and lyrically than those on Shine Your Light and its predecessor. Gabe’s careful attention to detail throughout is obvious. Any one of the songs on this collection could have easily fell victim to overproduction. Fortunately, Fulvimar operates with a judicious ear and hand. In terms of songwriting, craftsmanship, and listener enjoyment, This Is Gap Dream surpasses Shine Your Light. In addition to being a strong addition to the Gap Dream discography, This Is Gap Dream is a solid step forward creatively for Fulvimar and an excellent primer for the uninitiated.