Label: mau5trap RecordingsScore: 8/10
Having experienced a mixed two years since his previous album release – including a new record deal with Astralworks, Deadmau5 is back with a bang this summer with his seventh album release called while (1. The Canadian artist has been the perfect example of achieving commercial superstardom without being aided by a featured artist or using predictable mixes and Deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, hopes his latest release will experience the same fate.
The electro-house magician’s recent work hasn’t been as magical has he had originally hoped however. Swapping countless days of work behind the decks making Soundcloud memories for his November EP release called 7, fans including myself just weren’t appeased by his latest creation at the time due to the sadness the majority of us felt from the piano sonatas.
Deadmau5’s newest album release, while (1, possesses twenty-five tracks and one hundred and forty-one minutes of extreme emotion and tender piano experimental mixes – a far cry from Zimmerman’s usual progressive house and electronica creations. Whilst the attention of the audience becomes distracted at times by the presence of the piano sonatas, the overall package is genuinely an enjoyable listen – definitely Deadmau5’s most promising release to date.
Avaritia provides this double header album with a springing opener. Bringing fresh reminders of Zimmerman’s fifth album Random Album Title, the lead synth melody is accompanied by gloomy bass drops and extreme percussion. This is followed up by Coelacanth I. It allows listeners to float in and out of the background synths as tension is built throughout. The third song on the album possesses a beautiful lead melody sung by exotic female vocals. This is Deadmau5’s remix of Ice Age’s How To Destroy Angels – a complex electronica mix which gives Deadmau5 fans the opportunity to strut their stuff on the dance floor to.
My Pet Coelacanth, the fourth track on while (1, ensures the audience get lost in the moment taking in the detuned analog lead and famous layered organ chords however this is interrupted by the song’s unexpected “fuck!” sample. Infro Turbo Pigcart Racer – a peculiar title for a song to most but very normal in the world of Deadmau5 fans is a nine minute screamer proving why Deadmau5 is such a powerful producer and is still at the very top of his game – a very energetic addition to this double header album. Terrors In My Head is literally is what it says on the tin, terrors in my head. The track consists of a snake-like synth progression and unusual vocals taking the listener on an unpredictable journey of patient piano chords and deep techno rhythms. Coincidentally, this creepy record is followed by a track called Creep. It reminds listeners of the album’s deeper and darker side with the possibly the most experimental track on the album providing a mixture of spine tingling percussion and almost robotic inputs.
Next on the while (1playlist is Somewhere Up Here, one of my personal favourites on Deadmau5’s latest release due to it’s unconventional yet beautiful design in sound. It’s pumping bass with whispered voices and casual piano mixes creates an experimental beauty. This strong additions is followed up by another prominent single – Phantoms Can’t Hang. This song leads to a progressive house build with a foundation of delayed bass notes and a shell shocking vocal breakdown. The tenth song on the album, Gula, is a sure reminder of Zimmerman’s dark 7 EP with a deep and slow piano feature.
Now onto the second disk of while (1. Following a mixture of dark electronic complex and piano work on disk one, disk two kicks off in exactly the same mannerism with Acedia. This opening track features a twisted centrepiece and a varied breakdown paints a dark yet intriguing picture for the remainder of the album. Invidia possesses much softer and fragile piano melodies in comparison to Acedia. There is also a slight feeling of unresolved tension to the song. Errors In My Bread includes minimal drum work. This leads into a sorrow piano break creating further dark moments within the album.
Joel Zimmerman has always been a risk taker – throughout his career, Joel has always shined brightly when taking risks. When remixing Nine Inch Nails’ “Survivalism”, the story was no different. A Deadmau5 remix of Nine Inch Nails’ “Survivalism” has all the ingredients for a delicious outcome however in my opinion, this is one of the weaker tracks on Zimmerman’s latest double header. It all appeared too congested with a destructive rhythm and overriding vocals from Trent Reznor. Silent Picture follows this track – a wonderful dive back into the world of electronica with an incredible array of ping pong drops and a charming drone created by background guitars. The sixth track on the second album is another intriguing experimental creation made at the hands of Deadmau5. With sequestered stripped-down percussion and a resplendent broken-beat loop increasing the fervency of the song, it would be very interesting to see how Zimmerman would perform this particular track in front of a live audience.
Containing the album’s most uplifting intermission, Superbia gives listeners a warming deliverance in sound allowing them to get lost in the moment providing the perfect transition in between the experimental work of art – Silent Picture, and the pacey, electric vibes ushered in by Mercedes. This track is very similar to disk one’s Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer – nine minutes of energetic electro excellence. Bleed features after Mercedes. Bleed has minimal beats in comparison to it’s predecessor, Mercedes. However, Bleed is one of the most stand out selections on the album and is much more memorable due to it’s low end chords and timely melodic hits. Ira is also another piano influenced injection into this explosive album.
As we enter the latter stages of the second disk, dance fans will simply become even more confused by Deadmau5’s latest release. The track Monday will leave dance addicts scratching their heads questioning the genre of Deadmau5’s recent music. Monday consists of wonderful guitar chords transitioning into further addictive rhythms constantly changing the minds of the listeners. A Moment To Myself sees Zimmerman smartly support the delicate interplay with hardly any percussion ensuring all compliments towards the main focus which is the song. By far one of the stronger tracks on the second disk, Pets is very upbeat and extremely endearing, even involving a gentle mix of the drums. Finally, the album concludes with Coelacanth II. This blends together two of Joel’s stronger tracks on his album – Pets and Seeya featuring Colleen D’Agostino. Deadmau5 uses the melodies from the previous record and the concluding vocal of Seeya mixing together the perfect balance to end while (1 on a high note.
After listening to all twenty tracks and one hundred and forty-one minutes of Deadmau5’s latest album release, it will have left dance music fans fascinated, however it will have left them fascinated in two different ways. Some Zimmerman loyalists will admire his creativity for diving in head first into the land of the unknown with his experimental bravery trying his luck with piano work slightly more away from the electronic scene whilst some Deadmau5 fans will be fascinated in the respect that they simply aren’t used to this new side of the Canadian puppet master. Either way, Deadmau5 has been pulling my strings and I have huge admiration for this album, kudos Joel Zimmerman.
Words: Matty Adams