Right from the first few seconds of “Shine Your Light” it’s clear that Gap Dream – the brainchild of Gabriel Fulvimar – has undergone a complete sea change compared to his 2012 debut album. The track washes out of the speakers with glowing synth drones, akin to Moroder and Eno in equal amounts, right before the Tony Visconti styled drumming makes its appearance. From there on, “Shine Your Light” makes sure that we forget everything we thought we knew of Fulvimar and his music. This is after all a guy who only roughly a year ago released a bleary-eyed fuzz-fest without a single trace of synthesizers.
It’s fascinating that Fulvimar, who literally lived at Burger Records while recording it, created an album that sounds so different from the more garage and punk based music that typically is released on the label. Formerly, Fulvimar’s influences may well have originate from the same place as some of Burger’s pronounced acts, but Shine Your Light’s kaleidoscopic sound is a challenging task to accurately pin-point. Yes, there are the aforementioned synth-swoons of Eno, the languid croons taking its cue from 60’s psychedelia, but there is also something considerably more pronounced. Much like Forest Fire‘s Screens and Children Of Pop’s Fiesta/Drift, Fulvimar’s wide-eyed enthusiasm with a variety of styles is precisely what makes me immediately drawn to this album. And more importantly, it works. Not just as a nostalgic reference point, but more importantly, it adds to the conversations of contemporary indie music.
But it would be lazy writing to label this album solely as psych-pop. It suggests that the record utilize a certain way of writing songs that stems from Syd Barrett and late-Beatles. And surely, depending on how you approach it, you could easily accuse Shine Your Light’s ten tracks to conjure styles that have been exploited in heaps. But it’s just as easy to go the other way. Usually, when one, two or even three reference points aren’t enough to describe certain music, you’re left with an album that holds its own identity. Furthermore, there’s a problem when reviewer’s (including yours truly) constantly are referring new music to old ones. Of course, everything could be described in the light of another, but all that in the end matters is if an album holds enough solid song-crafting to be deemed as worthy of acknowledgment, while being distinctive enough to reward being noticed. In both respect, Shine Your Love is a triumph. Its playfulness mounts to a variety of styles that result in an unusually cohesive creation. All of the albums ten tracks shows of Gap Dream’s expanding musical universe, sounding distinctive enough from one and the other, while still being true to the overall style of Fulvimar’s newfound love-affair with synthesizers and krautrock. In the hands of Burger producer Bobby Harlow (The Go, Conspirecy Of Owls ) the production sounds crispy clear and imposing, where a lot of emphasis has gone into elevated drum engineering, not unlike what Visconti succeeded with Bowie’s Low. The result is worlds apart from Gap Dream’s debut album.
However, Shine Your Light displays more than just lush synthesizers and brilliant drum work. What it succeeds at more than anything else, is solid melodic songwriting. Fulvimar’s lyrics aren’t exactly deeply philosophical, as it is at times borderline banal, but they do possess a certain charm with topics concerning everyday life, loneliness, girlfriend troubles and boredom. Fulvimar doesn’t necessary concern himself of writing “catchy” hooks, but still, his spot on cynical phrases like “There is no past, there is no future, I wanna be the last executioner” or “I don’t need to get laid that bad I’ll just stay home and get high” have no trouble to stick on memory.
While his debut could easily get lost in a myriad of fuzzy riffs with dead-end outcomes, Shine Your Love is ten songs of solid, and more importantly, memorable songwriting. The album isn’t groundbreaking and certainly not without faults, but in the wake of its highlights and unified aesthetics, it’s easy to turn a blind eye. The brilliant stargazing title track, all of the previously heard teasers, the shimmering dream-pop of “Snow Your Mind” and the mechanical surf-pop of “Immediate Life Sentence”, puts Gap Dream’s second album amongst the most rewarding to come out of Burger Records in recent times. Fans of bedroom-styled garage rock may have little to nothing left to be enthusiastic about, but in my book, this is an impressive gear-change from Gap Dream.
- Gap Dream – Love Is Not Allowed (ifoundmusic.com)
- Album of the Week : Shine Your Light – Gap Dream (thegreyestates.com)
- Stream: Gap Dream, “Love Is Not Allowed” (thefader.com)
- Gap Dream “Love Is Not Allowed” (sunmedallion.com)
- Gap Dream Album Release (tubemag.com)
- Gabe Fulvimar of Gap Dream: “I Didn’t Move to California. I Moved to Burger.” (jumpphilly.com)
- Matt Kivel – Double Exposure (ifoundmusic.com)