For all of his continuous dismissals of the EDM scene, mousehead-wearing Canadian Joel Zimmerman appeared to succumb to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach with 2012’s Album Title Goes Here, a joyless and generic attempt to court the fratboy crowd which exposed him as something of a hypocrite. Thankfully, follow-up album while (1<2), his seventh album recorded under his deadmau5 moniker, suggests that one of dance music’s most outspoken DJs can in fact put his money where his mouth is.
Wisely ditching the formulaic drops, brostep wobbles and four-to-the-floor beats of its predecessor, the 33-year-old has instead opted to pursue an ambitious blend of neo-classical, progressive house and industrial electronica with a whopping 25-track 139-minute two-disc affair.
while (1>2), therefore, may alienate a large proportion of deadmau5’s recent converts, with only a handful of tracks falling into the club banger territory – the robotic electro of “Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer” and the Daft Punk-esque synth funk of closer “Seeya” the best of a surprisingly small bunch.
But although the string of seven-plus-minute epics and meandering interludes would test the patience of even the most loyal deadmau5 fan, Zimmerman’s new-found experimental streak pays off more often than not.
Alongside remixes of Nine Inch Nails’ “Survivalism” and How To Destroy Angels’ “Ice Age,” “Somewhere Up Here” and “Tears In My Head” also both channel Trent Reznor’s signature digital gloom to hypnotic effect. “Coelacanth I” is a stunning burst of cinematic ambience which sounds like the score to a long-lost sci-fi classic, while the gorgeously delicate piano instrumentals “Invidia” and “Superbia” and the lush proggy chillout of “Monday” prove that Zimmerman’s softer side can be far more engaging than his harder edge.
Having recently added Arcade Fire to his list of celebrity beefs with a rant about their recent “real instruments” jibe, deadmau5 still seems determined to become a rent-a-quote tabloid fixture. But having finally produced a record which matches his super-sized ego, he’d perhaps now be better off just letting the music of while (1>2) do the talking instead.