The Top Fifty Albums Of 2022: #5 GABE GURNSEY 'Diablo (Phantasy Sound)'

Published on 27 December 2022 at 16:26

By Paul Laird

Author of "The Birth And Impact Of Britpop: Mis-Shapes, Scenesters And Insatiable Ones"


I know nothing. 


I don’t know who, or what, Gabe Gurnsey is, and I don’t know if this is his/their first or one  hundred and first album. I could look it up. But then I might be tempted to cut ’n’ paste the  thoughts of someone else. There are enough people engaged in that nonsense. 


I hadn’t heard “DIABLO” until yesterday. 

December 23rd. 

It is now Christmas Eve. 

I’ve listened to it, all the way through, four times. 

It has crashed into my top five albums of the year. 

I don’t even know when it was released. 




I saw someone I trust tweeting their top twenty albums of the year on Twitter. They had put  “DIABLO” at number one. “Gabe who?” I thought to myself. By the time the opening track,  “Push”, had finished, I was hooked. Hooked by the sheer number, and weight, of the hooks.  Make no mistake about it, this is an album that has been designed to shake your soul, make your  body rock, and set your heart a-poppin’. 

“Remember when you touched me, the sky just started burning” intones Gurnsey on “Hey  Diablo”, “You keep coming I’ll bring the heat, don’t burn your mouth, just ride the beat” replies  Tilly Morriss, who acts as both muse and collaborator here. And the heat is exactly what Morriss  brings to things, her voice, her presence, dominate the album. A force of nature, a synth-pop  vampire, drawing the life from the night and using it to drive the album further. 


Gurnsey has managed to take things that are familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in  electronic music; Chemical Brothers, Depeche Mode, 808 State, Kraftwerk, Human League, and  create something that would sound contemporary on the dance floor in 1989 and in 2023. Retro futurism, an electro hauntology. “Diablo” could have been released by Mute in the eighties, by  Warp in the nineties, or it could have been the soundtrack to some achingly hip, Lynchian, road  movie. All things to all people.

Quite the trick. 


This is music for the night, on the way to, or from, the club…and it would be THE club. Music to  drag your sorry bones onto the floor, even if you had nobody to dance with. Music to fill the  room, music to break the bonds of the tomb of your life.  

Epic and intimate. 

Block rockin’, mind blowin’. 

Trust me.