Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: Cooperative Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
These days, too many musicians are afraid of silence. Cramming every available bar with wailing klaxons and jolting beats, music is about the hook, clambering and competing for our attention spans and hard-earned cash. Even if you avoid Psy and Flo Rida like the plague, you will be aware of their pulsing hyperactivity, screeching through the tinny speakers of passing cars.
Sensitive, synth-nurturing young men of a delicate timbre were all over music a couple of years ago, and this saturation makes Daniel Woolhouse, aka Deptford Goth, a difficult sell: the music is dreamy, he's pensive, and he sings as if he's mortified at the thought of being overheard. Yet Life After Defo is a spectral beauty. Some of the wispier tracks – Bronze Age, Deepest – are too apologetic, and it's at its best when it's lean, rather than sparse.
Standard advice in relationships goes that it’s never wise to begin things by being dishonest. So, considering that Daniel Woolhouse, aka Deptford Goth, isn’t really a Goth and doesn’t even come from Deptford, we’re building on shaky ground. But if names were always windows to the soul of music, several highly successful bands would have fallen at the first hurdle.
Filling the pensive gap left in electronica when James Blake chipped off to make his second album, Deptford Goth revels in the same introverted melancholy. But where Blakey cracks already fragile hearts with rattling bass, enigmatic south Londoner Daniel Woolhouse’s approach is more delicate. Softly building from scant foundations, this is a record where subtle and restrained emotion is the driving force.
Deptford Goth's wry moniker is the first hint that Daniel Woolhouse's take on melancholy isn't sweeping, melodramatic, and dressed in black, and the bruised electro-pop of his first full-length, Life After Defo, proves that his version of sadness is low-key and almost comfortable. Woolhouse's juxtaposition of sleek electronics with voices and feelings that are all too human calls to mind James Blake and the xx (especially on the spare, twangy "Particles"). However, his music sounds more humble and homespun, even if this album was recorded in a proper studio, a first for Deptford Goth.
His preferred mode of musical expression often arrives as a distant, weathered echo, but here’s what’s assertively clear about Deptford Goth’s Daniel Woolhouse: He knows his strengths. The self-made U.K. producer has an ear for sad-eyed electro-pop hooks, a knack for synthesizer-driven production flair, and the ability to merge the two, conveniently, in his own living room.
Daniel Woolhouse lived a double life in the run-up to recording his debut full-length as Deptford Goth. By day, the south Londoner was a teaching assistant in an elementary school; by night, he recorded synthesizer-plumped ballads in his front room. You hope for the kids’ sake that there wasn’t much correspondence between the two; story time round Daniel’s is a gloomy hour, full of mumbled doubts and unsettling lullabies.
Several factors militate against this debut album by Daniel Woolhouse, aka Deptford Goth. There's that name – doubly off-putting and untrue: Woolhouse does not live in Deptford, nor is he a goth, exactly. Rather, this album's crepuscular jag recalls Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago gone post-dubstep. If that sounds like the xx and James Blake are touchstones the size of mausoleums here – they are.
Soulfully articulated, machine-driven melancholia from rising south Londoner. Mike Diver 2013 As musical identities go, south London-based Daniel Woolhouse’s isn’t the most instantly appealing choice. Deptford probably doesn’t leap to mind when pondering London’s most vibrant cultural corners; and all things (musically) goth have, generally, been marginalised by the mainstream since the mid-80s successes of Sisters of Mercy and All About Eve.
Many of us might bemoan the number of bedroom-ridden twenty-somethings producing emotional, R&B pop. The Weeknd’s party comedown misery isn’t for everyone. James Blake’s humming croon was on occasion too wet and dreary. Daniel Woolhouse isn’t taking notice. His debut album ‘Life After ….