Deadmau5 is one of the most controversial figures in dance music, but despite his often polarizing views, his music most always transcends his public relations faux pas. The mau5 masked crusader — or nemesis, depending on where you stand — isn’t susceptible to public opinion, and because of this, his productions are generally a reflection of himself — rather than a reflection of the current musical climate. While some might find his attitude entitled or unappreciative, I find it refreshing. Too many artists have lost their identity in the process of finding success, and too often their art suffers as a result — but not for Joel Zimmerman.
> album title goes here < is the mau5′ sixth studio album, and his third to be pseudo-untitled. Fans were able to watch the album’s progression through SoundCloud previews along the way — and while it takes away the element of surprise for many, it also provides a unique and rare glimpse into both the process of a technical genius and his final product.
If you’re looking for something groundbreaking with this latest Deadmau5 release — look elsewhere, or adjust your expectations. That’s not what >album title goes here< is, and that’s not what Deadmau5 is about. His goal is not to change the dance music landscape, but instead to create an album that showcases his feelings. Those feelings permeate the album and bubble out in harmonious, addictive, technologically-sound waves. Put on a pair of great headphones, turn the volume up to dangerously high levels, and then listen to the album all the way through. Pay attention to the intricate details — because that’s where the creative genius lies.
Here is a track-by-track breakdown of the album, but we highly suggest listening to it for yourself and coming to your own conclusions. Every song will resonate with every listener in a different way, but let our thoughts work as a starting point for formulating your own opinions.
Superliminal is full of deep bass wobbles and serves as an appropriate album appetizer, warming us up for the entrees and deserts that come further into the release. The lengthy build might not be for everyone, but it is a signature Deadmau5 move and got our heads bobbing right from the start.
2. Channel 42 (Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner)
“Channel 42” is one of the more fast-paced tracks on the album, likely in large part to Wolfgang Gartner’s contributions. Wolfgang’s signature electro sound meshes well with the standard high pitch mau5 synths. Fans looking for drops in the album can start with “Channel 42.”
3. The Veldt (featuring Chris James)
“The Veldt” has been around in bits and pieces since March, and was most notably given the remix treatment by Tommy Trash. Although Tommy’s remix got more summer circulation, we’re partial to the original. Yes, it’s a bit more saccharine sweet and pop-driven than we’re used to hearing from Deadmau5, but it’s soothing and infectious — a beautiful track that deserves all the airplay it has already received.
4. Fn Pig
“Fn Pig” is one of the aforementioned tracks that gave listeners a glimpse into the production process. We heard several previews and followed “Fn Pig’s” progress all the way to the final product. The track features a slow deep build, light uplifting synths, and an unexpected, chopped, thumping drop. It clocks in at almost 9 minutes long — the longest track on the album by just a few seconds — but the different progressions make the entire thing worth listening to.
5. Professional Griefers (feat. Gerard Way)
Like “Fn Pig,” “Maths,” and “The Veldt,” “Professional Griefers” has already received its fair share of playtime — not to mention an enormous music video. The track premiered on Ustream as a work in progress back in February 2011 and was eventually released in August of this year. The vocal version, which is what’s featured on the album, was met with some disdain; but give it a few listens — it might grow on you.
90’s computer sounds might be not be the most modern, but this is Deadmau5 — not someone trying to reinvent the wheel. The beeps and glitches give this track its identity, and every time you think its over, it picks right back up.
7. There Might Be Coffee
“There Might Be Coffee” is one of the best tracks on the album. It has an incredibly slow build but quickly picks up with light chords that compliment the deep bass. Bliss.
8. Take Care of the Properwork
Starting with 30 seconds of white noise, “Take Care of the Properwork” moves into a deep rumble and random noise effects reminiscent of a city subway. The pulsating bass that drives this song is center stage for almost two minutes before it turns into anything, leaving the listener expecting more. As the song progresses, the tone changes, but it might be one of our least favorite tracks on the album.
“Closer” meanders a bit in its opening chords and although it doesn’t end with any big boom, it’s euphoric once it finally picks up.
“October” is yet another slow song off the album, but when you dig beyond the track — which feels simple on the surface — you can recognize the intricacies that make it work so well.
The computerized voices at the outset of “Sleepless” lend an eery vibe to this track. The background music is hidden behind the drums, but if you pay attention, you’ll hear it. It seems like the kind of track Joel might make after a bout of insomnia, which is known to happen to him with some frequency.
“Failbait” feels out of place on the album and features a seemingly odd collaboration with the multi-platinum, hip-hop group, Cypress Hill. To his credit, Deadmau5 doesn’t attempt to fit Cypress Hill to his style but rather adapts his style to fit theirs. In his respect for the rap group, he loses us and causes a blip in the rhythm of the album.
13. Telemiscommunications (featuring Imogen Heap)
Imogen Heap acts as the source of a one-sided telephone conversation with a presumed companion. Her coquettish, silky vocals are accompanied by an ambient background of synths and piano samples. “Telemiscommunications” is another of our favorite songs of the album.
We’ve come to the conclusion that dance music artists can’t win. If their sound evolves, then they’re traitors and sellouts; if they utilize old school sounds, they’re antiquated and behind the curve. This might not be Deadmau5’s best album in my personal opinion, but it’s still pretty good. It’s 100% Joel Zimmerman through and through — and what more can you ask from an artist?
Jesse Grushack contributed to this report.