Contrary to what the name might suggest, Deptford Goth—the solo electronica project of mild-mannered art student/teacher’s assistant Daniel Woolhouse— is neither based in London’s Deptford district nor is it gothic. The 27-year-old Woolhouse (who lives in nearby Peckham, if you’re curious) doesn’t make post-punk or industrial music, but a sluggish, laid-back strain of electronica better suited for the bedroom than the bar, in a style not unlike those of peers like James Blake and Balam Acab. His latest release, the Youth II EP (Merok), is a succinct set of downtempo tunes that forgoes the immediacy of most electronica for a more intimate approach.
That’s not to say there are no dubstep influences of course. Woolhouse hails from South London, the genre’s birthplace, and he incorporates some subdued rumbles into “Time,” the EP’s highlight by far. There’s none of the muck or mire coating the bass here; it’s softened around the edges, like a thundercloud looming above the otherwise carefree wisps of synth and the equally vaporous vocals. Aside from “Time,” the rest of the EP is devoid of bass drops or dance breaks, favoring instead drifting, sleepy tracks. “No Man” and “Youth II” are carried along through frothy waves of synth by respective currents of sputtering snares and auto-tune, while “Real Love Fantasy” inserts a militaristic drum pattern into the backbone of a doe-eyed ballad buoyed by 8-bit feedback bits.
The record often seems to simply float along, rather than aim for a specific artistic or aesthetic direction— but then again, that’s the trademark sound of albums dubbed as “chill.” It’s nice to hear Woolhouse’s misty falsetto floating above the soft melodies, although too often, it seems to dissolve into the background. When it comes time to craft a full-length release, perhaps there will be a little more oomph here.