While the Soft Pink Truth has often felt like Daniel trying on different ingenious costumes, 2020’s Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? was framed not around genre but instead around a thought-provoking question. Released at the isolating peak of the early pandemic, and framed as a response to the global rise of fascism, it took the form of a soft blur of ambient, house, jazz, and chamber music—a somber salve against darkness. Daniel created the record by collaborating virtually with friends, imbuing the dynamic musical interplay with an inspiring sense of community. Now, with the effervescent follow-up Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This?, Daniel successfully recaptures the lightning-in-a-bottle spirit of those sessions while boldly moving the Soft Pink Truth in a new direction, shaping kinetic performances into joyous disco marathons.
Where the preceding album took its title from a quote by Paul the Apostle, Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This? is indebted to the philosophical wisdom of a random clubgoer. Years ago, Daniel heard a woman ask the question while watching his friend DJ, and the funny, elusive phrase lived on as a kind of mantra. True to form, the new album is brighter and lighter than its predecessor, each sprawling disco and deep-house epic introducing its own special lineup and trajectory. Once again, Schmidt is joined by pianist Koye Berry, singer Angel Deradoorian, and saxophonists Andrew Bernstein (Horse Lords) and John Berndt, while longtime Matmos collaborators including guitarist Mark Lightcap and bassist Jason Willett add to the fine-tuned band. Ulaş Kurugüllü’s glitzy string arrangements hang off tracks like streamers; Obadias Guerra brings a dreamy harp to the joyful closing cover of Willie Hutch’s “Now That It’s All Over”; and noise artist John Wiese shows up with a well-timed crash of broken glass. Meanwhile, Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner star on the excellent one-two punch of “La Joie Devant La Mort” and “Wanna Know,” each getting a disco-diva spotlight that completely transforms their distinct voices.