Of all the DJs on this planet, there is nobody as outspoken, passionate and dedicated to Electronic music more than Deadmau5. Joel Thomas Zimmerman, now 33 years old and from Canada, has just released his seventh studio album, While (1<2) (While One is Less Than Two).
The first thing worth noting about this album is that many of the tracks have already been featured on his Soundcloud account, before he removed it earlier this year. Being in touch with his fan base, feedback has always been important to Deadmau5 and he recently took to Reddit to announce his frustrations after receiving feedback on the lack of new releases on this album, as a consequential result of this.
When the album landed on our desks this morning, the day of release, everyone scrambled for a chance to have a listen. Following an impeccable headlining performance in place of Avicii at Ultra Miami this year and with the promise of a new live show “Bigger than Bon Jovi”, we just couldn’t wait to see what we were in for.
The album starts slow, with a build-up that sounds like two introductions and breaks into a slow, yet moving “BjÃƒ¶rk-esque” track, which is actually a Deadmau5 remix of the band “How to Destroy Angels”, featuring Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. This makes a big change from conventional Deadmau5, so if you were expecting another album exclusively composed from variants of “The Reward is Cheese”, then you’ve made the wrong purchase.
Four songs in and we’re into that recognisable Deadmau5 sound, “My Pet Coelacanth” which Deadmau5 played during his set at Ultra Festival earlier this year, with an electric response.
Next up, “Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer” is one of our favourite tracks on the album. The track smashed the Hype Machine charts recently after debuting in early June and features a tense medley of electronic instruments and samples of car sounds, to give that “on a race track” feeling. If this isn’t featured in any racing games this year, we’d be shocked! We can only imagine this was the track of choice as Deadmau5 took to the Gumball Rally 3000 this year in his Purrari.
Unlike many albums, While (1<2) has a much longer running time at 140 minutes unmixed and 130 mixed. With twenty five tracks, many of which are at least four or five minutes long, don’t expect to be listening intently with a short attention span. We really had to devote our time to reviewing this album, as it doesn’t just push out a stream of radio mixes with the expectation to break the top 40 charts, but takes you on a journey. It’s a thing of beauty, a poetry of music that demonstrates incredible amounts of skill and perfectly showcases Deadmau5’s unrivalled passion for music. Even the songs that didn’t cater to our tastes, we couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer amount of energy it radiated.
Creep was one such song, a slow chill-step track that sounded like it belonged on a zombie survival film, the kind that saw a hero emerging from an intense fight a survivor, progressing to their next challenge. It wasn’t really our cup of tea, but it still fascinated us. Besides, without the quiet tracks, the heavier ones wouldn’t hit with anywhere near as much impact.
The second CD in the album follows a very similar pattern, with a slow build-up spread over three tracks. The cleverly titled “Errors In My Bread” features intentionally glitchy jabs of synthesizer which hits a slow piano break at the 2:20 mark before building back up in the lead to the next track, “Survivalism”, the second Deadmau5 remix on the album from the track by Nine Inch Nails. The album appears to be heavily influenced by the band throughout.
Throughout the second CD, it certainly appears to be more experimental and a lot slower. Expect to set this CD aside for more chilled times while keeping the first one for the more dramatic occasions in life. Certain tracks such as “Monday” remind us a lot of the band Radiohead, who are known for putting on one incredible live show occompanied with state-of-the-art visualisations and lighting, something Deadmau5 has promised us for his next tour. We can only imagine, if his live show is anything to be aligned with the album, it will be something truly spectacular.
As it rounds off things with the track “Seeya” (we can’t help but think this was squeezed in for something releasable as a single and to promote the album, as it detracts from the flow of the rest of the album), we are more than pleased with what Deadmau5 has produced. All too often these days, many artists see an album as a promotion tool for delivering their singles into the top 40 charts. Joel appears to have taken the concept of an album and delivered it as we feel it should be, as Daft Punk did with Random Access Memories last year, taking the user on a journey through the music, delivered as an artform and not a commercialised marketing tool.