deadmau5 – > album title goes here <
They must put something in the water over in Canada, as deadmau5 is just one in a long line of Canadian artists who have managed to achieve massive commercial success while at the same time inspiring impassioned criticism and derision (Nickelback, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette…). His pot-stirring antics always make for good reading, and they certainly ensure his profile remains at the top end of the scale, but they also mean there’s no shortage of people willing to sling stuff right back at him. In turn, you kind of get the impression that ‘deadmau5 as icon’ has become more important than ‘deadmau5 as producer’, the music getting lost in the hustle and bustle of wars of words with various other artists. You like to think people have the ability to look beyond the sensationalist news stories and focus solely on the music, but I’m not convinced that’s always the case.
Before I go any further, I have an admission to make – I’m not the world’s biggest deadmau5 fan-boy, so to a certain extent I’m approaching this blind. I’ve had to do a bit more than usual in the way of background research in order to feel comfortable reviewing this, although I’d say my ignorance also means I’m coming at it with a fresh, objective pair of ears. Perhaps more importantly, if I hadn’t done this research I would have no idea that the cat on the cover is deadmau5’s cat Professor Meowingtons. (As he’s a Professor, I’d like to ask Meowingtons if the ‘apostrophe s’ after ‘deadmau5’ is grammatically correct – it looks kind of weird.)
Continuing with the oh-so-clever/oh-so-rubbish (delete as appropriate) tradition of deadmau5 album titles, > album title goes here < features thirteen tracks that sweep through a fairly diverse array of sounds. Most of these tracks have been floating around the ether in various forms for a while now, which kind of renders this review pointless, but I’ll ignore that and plough on regardless. Hopefully my words of wisdom still have some role to play in helping you decide whether to invest in this or not.
The album begins in glorious fashion with Superliminal, a bass-heavy slab of moody slow-building techno that rolls along on a dirty riff and marching-band drum roll. The pace ups a little on the Wolfgang Gartner collaboration Channel 42, a schizophrenic sonic stomper with old-school synth tones and an insistent psychedelic vocal loop. The process behind the creation of The Veldt has been well documented, so it would be redundant for me to repeat it here. Put simply, it’s an amazing piece of music, Chris James’s delicate vocals sitting perfectly within the uplifting, summery vibes, the track’s effectiveness coming from its repetitious, looped simplicity, featured here in all eight minutes and 25 seconds of brilliance – and even that’s an edited version. The lover of smooth melody in me is saying this is one of the best tracks on the album, and no doubt it’ll be closing a few sets over the coming summer months.
Continuing on, Fn Pig is something of a beast, starting off in a slow, atmospheric manner before breaking out into a chunky slice of pulsating techno, the whole thing clocking in at an epic nine minutes. Professional Griefers features the vocal talents of Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, and the track seems to do the trick of combining his exaggerated rock vocals with some pop-dance production. It’s obviously a stab at conquering the pop charts, and that’s no bad thing. If you’ve heard the hooky robotic electro of Maths, you’ll be aware of its sonic similarities to the work of another legendary EDM act, but I’m not into making lazy journalistic comparisons, so I’ll stop there.
Killer track number two is There Might Be Coffee, seven minutes of sheer instrumental electro brilliance, with layers of shimmering synths bouncing along in joyous fashion, and there’s a French house-esque filtered breakdown to top it off. Take Care of the Proper Paperwork works itself up into a mad, dark sonic trip, mixing up some tribal rhythms, throbbing bass and distorted guitar sounds to display some very clever production work. Taking its melodic hook from the music for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (also utilised by that anonymous legendary EDM act), Closer is a tasty cut of widescreen melodic trance, a vibe which continues with the measured slow-builder October.
The album draws to a close with a trio of quite disparate tracks. Leading into the home straight is Sleepless, a comparatively chilled track that completely evades any dancefloor aesthetic and instead utilises some intriguing production techniques to create a pseudo-live band sound of piano, bass and drums. It would be fair to say that I ain’t a rap fan, and so the addition of Cypress Hill to Failbait, a track which has been around for some time, doesn’t really do much for me, although obviously their inclusion makes sense given the hip-hop beats and samples of the original. Final track Telemiscommunications is a gem of icy chilled minimalist beauty, its grace coming from the gorgeous vocal talents of Imogen Heap. It’s the perfect album closer.
Ultimately, as with any album where the myth of the artist looms large, the best approach is just to block out all the extraneous garbage, put on the headphones, and absorb yourself solely in the music. I don’t think there’s enough of a consistent sonic identity on here to make > album title goes here < worthy of total classic status, but at the same time, there isn’t a single dull moment. It’s a minor quibble, and no doubt I’m being pedantic, but I would have ditched Failbait, or least sequenced it elsewhere, as it kind of disrupts the chilled moments of the tracks either side. No doubt that was the whole point of putting it there. At the end of the day, > album title goes here < just proves what we already know – deadmau5 is one of the finest producers around. I think I’m now one step on the road to being the world’s biggest deadmau5 fan-boy.
> album title goes here < is out Friday September 21 through EMI Music. Pre-order your copy.