The follow-up to 2018’s Physical is a sonically powerful record with a clear sense of identity that creatively mines the club scene of the mid-to-late ’80s with considerable success
Taut house grooves, 707 drum machine hits, sensual yet disaffected lyrics, all these things and more go into a Gabe Gurnsey record. For his second album – the follow-up to 2018’s Physical – he creatively mines the club scene of the mid-to-late ’80s with considerable success, especially as his transition to fewer longer songs makes Diablo a more focused, cohesive experience.
Push kicks things off with a rapid-fire bassline, synth chords bleating erratically and acidic blips building momentum, a fiery and dynamic opener. Elsewhere You Remind Me brings the cross-rhythms that Factory Floor fans will know and love, while the title track displays a distorted riff under lyrics performed in a Tiga-esque deadpan (“imagine if you touch me and the sky just started falling / imagine if you touch me and the sky just started burning”).
While the album mostly delivers for the dancefloor, variety comes with the beatless psychedelia of I Love A Sea On Fire and the darker, brooding tones of closing track To The Room. One problem that arises in the crevices of the record, however, is that Gurnsey remains a better producer than songwriter – this can lead to underpowered sections and the frustrating tinge of unrealised potential as the vocal delivery strays from uninterested to uninteresting.
There are signs of structural development on the song Blessings, as a busy ostinato and pumping 4×4 beat builds to a highly satisfying climax, wobbly pads and extra percussion layered with great verve. Power Passion’s mid-tempo syncopation is also home to the album’s catchiest top line (even if it is a tad familiar) which could serve as a basis for further progression.
Diablo is a sonically powerful record with a clear sense of identity, and this helps to push past any shortcomings as Gurnsey remains a great producer and one to watch in the alternative electronic milieu.