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