Deptford Goth – Life After Defo (Merok Records)
Deptford Goth’s new album weaves complex soundscapes from music, voice and other sounds. idp enjoys the result.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. He’s not from Deptford and he’s not a goth. He is Daniel Woolhouse from Peckham and he chose his soubriquet, Deptford Goth, because he thought it sounded good, which is reason enough. Woolhouse/Goth is a multi talented songwriter, musician and producer whose new album, Life After Defo, has been creating quite a stir on the R&B electronica scene and has been prompting comparisons with The XX and The Knives among others.
The album is a delicate, fragile thing. Even on mp3 it sounds like it might shatter if played roughly – on CD it probably crumbles into thousands of tiny crystal shards in your hands as you load it into the player. But it’s also a thing of great beauty, with Woolhouse’s softly intoned vocals weaving in and out of the music, creating a soundscape that draws the listener in and which repays repeated listening.
Lyrically it’s emotional and intense and understated, half song, half recitative, at its best when Woolhouse’s voice uses conversational speech patterns and the music sweeps around them, the vocal repeating phrases and fragments over and over until the words become frankly meaningless and the voice is merely another instrument in the mix. The poetry of the lyric is confessional and calm. It never descends into the realms of the obvious but sometimes you wish it would be just a little more revealing about the back story to the songs – at times the album is so abstract that it sounds almost as though it wasn’t intended to be heard – like listening in to a conversation between the singer and his own reflection in the mirror, a rehearsal maybe for something that needs to be said.
Musically the album is a collection of sound collages, featuring voices, instruments, electronic elements and sounds which may have been drawn from more everyday sources. On Bronze Age choral vocals are overlaid onto an electronic beat with an insistent beat provided by what sounds like a teaspoon tapping on a glass. Highlights are the title track and opener Life After Defo, where the beat sounds like a human heart and the breathy vocal seems reminiscent of Koyanisqaatsi, the descending melody line on Objects, Objects and the multiple overlaid vocals on Particles. It’s certainly an interesting listen and Woolhouse has staked a claim to be considered one of the leading lights of the British electronic scene for the next few years.
All words by idp.