Producer deadmau5, the purveyor of all your EDM nightmares dressed up in a novelty mouse helmet, created his new album W:/2016ALBUM/ in the Canadian woods.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, deadmau5 described his new conditions: “There's only 300 people living here, so you have to drive [to your neighbours]. It's kind of freaky – you can totally get lost in the woods”.
It’s a strange idea. A woodcutter making mega tunes in a cabin for trashed lads and ladettes staggering around a gaudy mega-club.
This is the six-time Grammy nominated artist’s sixth studio album and his first as an independent artist through his own label Mau5trap. deadmau5 took to Twitter last month to express his dislike for the new album and yet it is arguably his most refined record to date. All our notions of deadmau5 as the purveyor of the EDM nightmare are over.
He now has the confidence to let the beat drop without the fanfare or confetti cannons. It’s more subdued than his previous work. The isolation he endured making the album has allowed him to accept subtlety.
‘Snowcone’ features multiple oscillating synth lines which are at risk of getting lost in each other if not for a simple hip-hop kick drum pattern that drives the song forward. The effect is transcendental. A piece of work bordering on genius.
‘Whelk Then’ is a brooding, plush orchestration with ghostly vocals and that same driving drum pattern. It sounds like Jean-Michel Jarre having a bad trip.
The rest of the album isn’t especially memorable. ‘4ware’ is glitchy progressive house. Not particularly inspiring but a worthy soundtrack to midnight drives. ‘Cat Thruster’ is a Daft Punk copycat.
It’s passable in the context of the album but if he had released it amongst his other albums we would be calling it the renaissance of deadmau5. Instead they pale in comparison to ‘Snowcone’ and ‘Whelk Then’ which are in a class of their own.
In the context of his career this album seems like a natural stepping stone. An album free from the shackles of a major label and its consequential rampant commercialism was always going to produce something that didn’t immediately pander to its keg fuelled audience. The surprise is just how well deadmau5 pulls it off. If he actually makes a record he likes - it could be ground-breaking.
Words: Richard Jones
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