It's 2018. Guitar music is as good as dead, exiled into irrelevance after decades of debasement. David Vassalotti (known for his work with a slew of Florida-based projects, most notably as co-founder of 4AD recording artists Merchandise) has crawled out from under his rock to record and release a record called Guitar Dream. Out of moroseness? Hope? Sarcasm? Are guitars’ death and life but a dream?
A quasi-breakup album voiced through a protean pastiche of dejected characters, this new record sees David Vassalotti at his most up-front and confessional. Vassalotti's guitar and songwriting work in Merchandise is much more apparent on this album compared to his last record, 2015's omni-genre and collage-heavy Broken Rope. On Guitar Dream, he channels some of Merchandise's melancholic post-punk balladry, but this record maintains a decidedly bleaker and more literary tone. Vassalotti is known and respected for his guitar playing, but his abilities as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist are finally given opportunity to clearly shine, thanks to the production and engineering talents of co-conspirator and Merchandise frontman Carson Cox, in whose Silver Spring basement Guitar Dream was tracked.
Fractured glam, keyboard trumpets and, yes, the occasional guitar solo prop up Vassalotti's fragile voice throughout the album's 10 tracks. Blankets of reverb and delay ghostify these maudlin pop nuggets. This is music best experienced alone, whether that be sitting on your unkempt bedsheets in the midnight hour or headphoned in the anonymous flow of the dreaded morning commute. In the tradition of other ambitious loners, fans of Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley, Cass McCombs and Franco Battiato will find much to love here.
DAVID VASSALOTTI RELEASES