Boomkat Product Review:
Diablo is the follow-up to Gabe Gurnsey’s 2018 debut, “Physical”, on Erol Alkan’s Phantasy Sound.
"Close your eyes and listen to Gabe Gurnsey’s latest offering, “Diablo”. You might be transported to a German autobahn after nightfall, strobe lights flashing in your private imaginarium. Or perhaps to a dimly lit basement, getting your top off as sound cascades off of concrete walls. “Diablo” moves in unexpected directions, and you quickly realise you can relax and trust it to make you feel extremely good. We’re in a place of giddy echoes, 808 boings, sexy-menacing vocals and soft throbs, with lyrics full of pleasure and desire; like proper rave lyrics, they are in turn filthy, grandiose, devotional, and cryptic.
Where “Physical” followed the arc of a night out in a linear way, “Diablo” expands time, slows it down and opens it up, showing a quiet confidence and progression, and making judicious use of Gurnsey’s girlfriend, Tilly Morris, whose role is that of both muse and collaborator. Morris – who was also featured on “Physical” – sings on most of “Diablo”s tracks, contributed to the lyrics, melodies, and synths, and her image is the album artwork.
“Diablo” is an urban record, and you can hear and feel that city-edge on every track, most of them pure dancefloor fire. On ‘Blessings’ Gabe’s vocal channels a post-futurist Donna Summer as the song drives towards Munich’s Hansa studios for an evening rendezvous with Giorgio Moroder. Tilly’s confessional vocal on ‘Higher Estates’ pushes and pulses through the sublime pleasure of urban squalor. The drum-less ‘To Love In A Sea Of Fire’ contains little more than a coruscating bass and synth pads to accompany the lure of Tilly’s sarcastic drawl. Title track ‘Diablo’ sees Gabe and Tilly deliver a disembodied duet, love-sparring like a post-apocalyptic Donny & Marie Osmond – they reprise this routine on ‘So Sweet’ (which is anything but): “I’m breaking at the thought of your love, I’m shaking at the thought of your mind.” ‘Power Passion’ has a touch of wine bar and a hint of Daft Punk and ‘You Remind Me’ is all sharp little squelches, stutters, and swooning sunrise vocals. “Give Me” shifts from demand (“Give me your loving”) to begging (“Give me your loving”) in the sweetest and sexiest way. ‘To The Room’ closes the record with a sinister softness, glimpses through a doorway into other possibilities.
You’ll hear all sorts of influences here, from Peaches, Detroit techno, deep house, electro, Suicide and Eurythmics. It’s a generous stew which shows its appreciation for his forebears without ever being overshadowed by them. “I love the’80s,” he admits. “It’s been a big influence. There’s just something quite melancholy about that era, isn't there?” Let’s face it, most of the best dance music has that minor-key sadness, channeled to perfection by Gurnsey and Morris."