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Deptford Goth – Electrowerkz, London 24/04/13

April 29, 2013


“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”

For many people, and particularly for those possessing a certain character type, life in the epoch of your 20s is one of a surprising transition. Gone is the safety net of childhood, the more carefree later teenage years (as savage as they can be) have lost their novelty, and in comes a barrage of gaudy life lessons to take in your nomadic, aimless stride. Daniel Woodhouse knows this and creates purifying music under the name of Deptford Goth that reflects some of these introspective strands of thought, as seen in the recently-released and powerfully emotive Life After Defo LP – one of the outstanding releases from Quarter one in 2013.

“Everything that comes together

Everything that falls apart in here

In every single living thing.”

In my mid-20s living in various pre-gentrified South London boroughs, I would stumble my way through life undecided whether to live in the now and say ‘yes’ to all, or train my mind for what tomorrow could hold, and probably did neither in the end successfully. I hold a specific dichotomous memory that’s intensely vivid but wholly abstract and vague after indulging in some euphoric substances one opprobrious summers night, the kind of night with a luxuriant urban energy, where you can almost kiss the air. At 5am having departed from whoever (and wherever) I was with I found myself sitting on a patch of undulated dry grass on my lonesome surrounded by the rich, ambient light of high-rise council flats and warm street lights in a sort of midsize courtyard, as a dark now-navy-blue sky hugged me and kept me safe, enclosed in an equilibrium of happy thoughts and a tinge of impending doom (known as tomorrow). And I stayed there for an hour. Literally an hour in my solitary state yet surrounded by these rampant electric memories. Wholly absorbed by all these intense-yet-cottony emotions ruptured by an acute nostalgia, a nostalgia for anything. Even the bad times. Where are you friends tonight? Clarity in thought, inarticulate in semantics. I and my emaciated face was well aware that it was a peculiar thing to be doing, everything was fucked, but it was all okay. (Hang in there, a tenuous link for this semi-bout of narcissism is coming up…)

And this ladies and gents is exactly the feeling that Mr Goth nails; sure, an overt melancholic vibe is present but there’s hope, there’s a trenchant acceptance of what’s gone before. And it’s fine. There’s beauty in the breakdown. It expresses emotion concisely and slices through the fibre of your being, but never explicit in content. Much like my mangled celestial thoughts – oh yeah and the above happened in Deptford for those segue fans out there. “I’m losing my perspicacity” Lisa Simpson once screamed – and this knowing nod to the human condition sums it all up.

Seeing him live stirred these doughy memories in what are still embryonic stages of the Deptford Goth live experience. The tousled dingy interior of Electrowerkz in Angel suits the lo-fi electronica of his sound, and he takes to the stage with a cello player (Rhosyn from the Blessing Force label) – a facet that adds a very welcome organic dimension to proceedings as opposed to the synth strings as heard on record.

Woodhouse has said his album is “kind of a way of transmitting those feelings without having to look someone in the eye” and that’s apparent somewhat tonight, indulging in very minimal stage chat despite natural silences between tracks and hiding behind his luscious beard, sad eyes and keyboard – very much focussed on his music throughout. And he seems equally as vulnerable as his work. The intensity of Life After Defo is luminous in many parts – taught paper-thin entities such as ‘Lions’ are particularly devastating live, the stripped-back nature of the track allows the resplendent tones do the talking.

Track of the Year (well for me) ‘Union’ falls short somewhat however, as it’s more reliant on laptop effects and loops; on the album this works stupendously as the raw, fragile vocals from Woodhouse play against the digitised drum patterns/synths, and it’s a beautiful thing. Wicker and steel. Anyways live it sounds a tad flat somehow and less immersive.

This is to be expected for someone finding their footing in a live setting, and that’s the beauty of tonight in many ways to see this process unfurling, imperfections included – and the positives do far outweigh the niggling negatives. ‘Feel Real’ gets a remarkable series of whoops from the packed crowd from that very first synth, I had no idea the track had taken off (I have no awareness of popular culture) – it’s an earworm that goes beyond and burrows directly into your soul. His delivery is always earnest as you’d expect and never narcissistic, if it sounds like I’m being an East Dulwich Emo about the whole package.

Shout out to ‘Bloody Lip’ for finding a new lease of life that sums up the remarkable clarity in feeling and emotion – despite the amorphous sound and non-explicit lyrical content/subject matter that he adheres to. An odd, highly intriguing duality going on embedded in a calm of mellifluous catharsis.

It’s music for music fans to make love to. His next London show is at the Union Chapel in Setember and you can’t help but feel that it will be something a little special. Make sure to digest a wholly natural wave of melancholic-euphoria then.

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