Albums | Deadmau5 – > album title goes here < (Review)

Posted by on September 27, 2012

Deadmau5 dropped his much-anticipated sixth studio album on Tuesday, marking the culmination of what has been a long, fascinating-to-watch process that played out largely on Soundcloud and the mau5’s Ustream channel. While > album title goes here < is not as groundbreaking or explosive as some of Joel Zimmerman’s past efforts — in fact, it’s been handily derided by a number of critics for feeling “tired” and “stale” and like “a Sasha and John Digweed set from 1997” — it is in fact very much in keeping with Joel’s ethos as a musician and seems reflective of both his state of mind and his (occasionally prickly) attitude towards the music industry.

In many ways, > album title goes here < is classic mau5. The production is polished to an obsessive extent, with deceptively simple but pitch-perfect synths playing off of one another to create the multi-dimensional soundscapes he is known for. The majority of tracks fall in the six to nine minute range, and eschew big, heady drops for the slow-burn builds favored by the tech house denizens of yore. Though indie darling Imogen Heap and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way both have vocal credits, this is not a poppy album by any means — it is restrained, nuanced, and at times incredibly minimal, an album for the connoisseurs. There are moments when you’ll likely find yourself thinking of tech house and trance; ever the iconoclast, Joel is not one to do what people expect. He is, however, one for working through his creative highs and lows with his fans watching, meaning that you will probably recognize several of the tracks from their earlier stages (“Fn Pig,” “There Might Be Coffee,” “Superliminal” and “Closer” were all posted on Soundcloud long before they were finished). While some may be disappointed by the comparative “lack” of new material, there is nonetheless something fitting and decidedly mau5-ish about seeing these tracks in their final incarnation on the album.

Overall, > album title goes here < is something to listen to from start to finish, with each song contextualized against the next. It’s an album for a roadtrip, or your headphones, or a long evening at home. There’s no bombast here, but there’s an almost intellectual level of mastery on display; unlike much of today’s EDM, it just happens to lie in the subtleties.