Deptford Goth – Life After Defo (album) (Merok Records)

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One of the best new discoveries for 2012 came right at the end of the year in the form of a single called “Union” (read our review) by South London solo artist Daniel Woolhouse, professionally known as Deptford Goth.

Woolhouse studied art and worked as a primary teacher’s assistant before deciding to give his all to music creating remixes for Purity Ring (listen to the Deptford Goth remix of “Ungirthed”), Blood Diamonds (listen to the Deptford Goth remix of “Grins”), and S.C.U.M (listen to the Deptford Goth remix of “Faith Unfolds”), as well as a 4-song EP in October 2011 entitled ‘Youth II‘.

The aforementioned “Union” was Deptford Goth’s second single (following first single “Life After Defo“) and showed hints of James Blake though more cohesive, and minus the dubstep glitchy-ness. Although certainly soulful “Union” was also minus Blake’s overt R&B and soul influences but instead combined gorgeous Bon Iver style vocal melodies all combining to create a similar timbre to The xx.

However without the context of the album, reviewing the single in isolation was like seeing only half the picture. As the press release states, the album works as an entire piece. Although the James Blake comparison is, in part, still relevant the 11-track debut from Deptford Goth is certainly not a “post dub-step” record. Electronic, yes but ‘Life After Defo’ is much more of a singer/songwriter oriented record.

The opening title track, and first single, sets the template for the album. Warm, thick pads with sparing notation allow Woolhouse’s vocal melodies to provide the rhythm. Along with its atmospheric nature, a gospel quality permeates not just throughout this track but in several others. This quality gives the album a reflective and solemn tone with each track playing out like a meditation.

“Bronze Age” follows with some clickity-clack style beats ala James Blake. It’s initially sparse until a hooky synthpop-like chorus arrives at 1:30 bringing with it a steady beat with hand claps steering the song into a Twin Shadow-esque territory.

As with Twin Shadow, there is an 80’s vibe which echoes on ‘Life After Defo’. There’s something about “Feel Real”, the album’s most likely “hit”, that’s somehow reminiscent of Mike and The Mechanics and what may seem equally as odd, both here and on the gorgeous “Guts No Glory”, the vocal melodies even draw to mind Paul Simon circa ‘Graceland’.

“Object Objects” shows hints of SBTRKT (think “Hold On” or “Trials of the Past”), “Particles” has a Purity Ring echo to it, while the heavy gospel driven, organ and vocal only “Lions” recalls James Blake.

When second single “Union” arrives it’s a glorious moment. A gorgeous, moving number and a definite album highlight. “Deepest” manages to successfully marry the album’s two major characteristics – the James Blake-esque world and the 80’s-esque world.

The album most certainly works as a whole and works through its consistency. It’s delicately constructed, elegantly produced with a lush but “less is more” approach. During the first couple of plays it may be difficult to discern many of the song’s individual characteristics with most of the material sitting at the same tempo and embodying the same mood and sonic palate. But after several plays, through the subtleties and nuances, the treasures are revealed in a rich and rewarding way. ‘Life After Defo’ is a solid debut by an exciting new artist.

‘Life After Defo’ will be released digitally and physically (CD and 12″ vinyl) on 18 March, 2013 through Merok Records.

Watch the video for the title track “Life After Defo” below:

Update March 19, 2013:  The video for “Feel Real” has just been released. Watch below:

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