On his debut album, Deptford Goth (aka producer Daniel Woolhouse) goes big. Using fairly minimalist instrumental layers and ethereal vocal components to create a complex, intense record. “Life After Defo” is a strong first step for Deptford Goth
A foreshadowing of the energy and atmosphere of the rest of the album, opening and title track “Life After Defo” begins theatrically, a slow build of epically intense drum and percussion beats. Scattered throughout the album are hints of a visceral, almost tribal, atmosphere. This song features a number of traditionally tribal sounds—hand drums, effects that sound like shakers and rattlers, chanting background vocals—that juxtapose smartly with the largely industrial instruments to create a haunting, dreamy experience. An exercise in emotion, “Feel Real” builds from a very minimal, sparse beat to an elaborate, encompassing climax that feels like being swept up in the ascension of a roller coaster, gaining more momentum and passion as it continues on.
For as experimental and ambient the album as a whole is, Deptford Goth manages to add a level of catchiness to many of the record’s tracks that is surprising both in its presence at all and in how it sneaks up on the listener. “Union” maintains a bubbly, electronic beat throughout. It’s fairly minimalist throughout the verses, but the chorus, when more ambient instrumentation kicks in to create an atmosphere that’s simultaneously more intricate and delicate, is the track’s star. After the first performance of the chorus, the listener will involuntarily sing its first line, “Everything that comes together,” on its subsequent showings on the track without quite knowing when it entered their psyche in the first place.
While the majority of tracks on “Life After Defo” are quite remarkable and memorable, a few miss the mark and are, unfortunately, boring. “Lions” relies on a scarce keyboard-driven melody that doesn’t work as well as others on the album because it doesn’t evolve at all. The end of the track sounds exactly the same as the beginning, rendering the intervening two minutes moot. It doesn’t surprise me that this track is the album’s shortest; you can only play the same keys and sing the same notes for so long. A couple of missteps are common for a first album, and with its successes far outnumbering its slips, Deptford Goth’s “Life After Defo” is way ahead of the game.