You have to give it to Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5: The producer never lets grammar get in the way of online rants, let alone the naming of his albums. The mau5 has been highly vocal on the transition of dance music since Rolling Stone tagged 2012 the year of the “Dance Dance Revolution” on its February cover. Alongside months of self-promotion leading up to the release of >album title goes here<, the crux of his argument is as follows: The craft of being a DJ is in producing your own tunes and not just spinning another’s music; live EDM has become more about the visuals than the skill of producing live; and music is best when produced in a well-equipped studio and not the back of a touring bus.
For lack of a better name, let’s dub these rules the “deadmau5 doctrine.” >album title goes here< fits nicely within this doctrine, and with the assistance of big-name collaborators, it also extends the reach of his signature progressive house. Most significantly, the album showcases a shift toward the high-minded, super-precise production vibe of minimal techno and Euro-touring house producers.
Although less bombastic than previous deadmau5 standouts like “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” or “Raise Your Weapon”, the mid-section of >album title goes here< still has the potential to draw police officers to your doorstep, depending on the decibel level and kindness of your neighbors. “Take Care of The Proper Paperwork” is seven minutes of depraved tech-house, with beats ripped from a dank German nightclub of 1994 and given a quick electro makeover by the mau5. In comparison, “October” is angelic, focusing on an uplifting vibe that could fit seamlessly on an upcoming episode of Armin Van Buuren’s A State of Trace.
Although he’s against producing his tracks live, it is easy to imagine the walking bassline and jazz-influenced drums of “Sleepless” with an actual backing band. The shortest track on the release at 4:12, “Sleepless” (which is a dramatic edit of 2010’s “Sleeping Beauty Pills”) includes the most powerful message: “In the end we are nowhere/ sleepless and still and tight…the only thing I want is the last thing I need/ Awake and sleepless as stars shine.” The celestial undertones are amplified by “Closer”, which utilizes the alien communication notes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind to put listeners in touch with other sentient beings.
Zimmerman hasn’t totally abandoned the raver of yesteryear, launching the album with his signature electro-whips on “Subliminal” and Wimbledon-worthy synth volleys of “Channel 42”. Akin to 4×4=12′s “Animal Rights”, Wolfgang Gartner serves as studio partner for “Channel 42” and proves himself a sterling selection to help deadmau5 to construct a towering collage of EDM chord structures; think the Burj Khalifa of dance music, a structure that dominates the landscape with both breathtaking dimensions and precision. deadmau5 follows the track with another personnel reboot from 4×4=12, teaming with producer/vocalist Chris James for an eight-minute vocally driven edit of “The Veldt”.
Like “October”, the track is centered around an uplifting trance aesthetic that has been much better received in European discotheques than among the deadmau5-tee sporting youth of the U.S. “Fn Pig” unites the two poles of this mix while epitomizing what can be done with a room dedicated to professional synthesizers. The track refuses to recycle old beats or plug-ins, gradually building from a twilight oceanic hum into a wave of electro-aggression and breakbeat vocal loops. Surely, whenever deadmau5 is set to bring this album on the road, “Fn Pig” and the album’s vocal edit of “Professional Griefers” will play behind a blistering visual rollercoaster that tosses the crowd from visceral joy to saw-jaw mayhem.
Additional guests Cypress Hill and Imogean Heap take the man in the mau5head to more uncharted territory. Cypress Hill’s drug-heavy lyrics on “Failbait” are nearly as lackluster as their album with Rusko, but deadmau5 does show a new side of his production here with choppy hip hop beats. The BPMs slow even further on “Telemiscommunications”, which features the quirky, lovestruck vocals of Imogean Heap.
>album title goes here< may show a more mature, artistically evolved deadmau5, but it’ll still sell out auditoriums. Without kowtowing to burgeoning club genres, the mau5 continues to augment his multi-sensory set to entertain audiences worldwide, be that with “Subliminal”, “Channel 42”, and “Failbait” in North America, or with the album’s more emotive tracks when he tours internationally. Now eyeing commercial success, deadmau5 is making a powerful statement that he is capable of more than entertaining hormone-fueled twenty-somethings. He can take genre-defining characteristics of house and techno and make them relevant to a group of consumers that is totally ignorant of their roots.
Essential Tracks: “Fn Pig”, “Channel 42”, “Closer”, and “Telemiscommunications”