Death After Life is retro-futurist music that could soundtrack an old computer game. All-analogue beats can end up stodgy in the wrong hands, but here McRyhew is nearly virtuosic, juggling drum sounds and twisting synth leads into winding melodies. His chord progressions have an emotive quality, offsetting the album's bleeps and bloops with downcast moments like the Recondite-esque "Part VI."
Footwork presents itself in spirit more than in execution. Only a few of the tracks, like the hyperactive "Part V," reach 160 BPM, and the playful drum programming ("Part IV") could just as easily point back to Trax in its heyday. In fact, with a 4/4 pulse present in some form for most of the LP, Death After Life has a distinct techno influence. "Part II" could be an STL tune, with its dub touches and wobbly effects, and "Part III" has all the filtered chords you'd expect from a peak-time club bomb (despite the noisy crescendo at the end).
That technoid quality is also, potentially, the album's downfall. Death After Life is so seamless and consistent that it might grow tedious for less patient listeners. It's a collection of live jams at its heart—melodies tend to spiral outward rather than take a straight path, and the only real production flourish is the big-room reverb that dramatically highlights certain chords or drum hits. But that skeletal approach is part of the charm: more than just another producer trying out footwork, McRyhew shapes his influences into something individual.