Deadmau5 commands the first electronic dance epic with ‘while(1<2)' [Album Review]
It was easy to forget that Deadmau5 was plotting an epic long player enroute to the release of while(1<2). With more emphasis falling on his Gumball 3000 efforts and the subsequent flogging of his infamous Purrari via Craigslist than on his own impending Mau5trap imprint pairing with Astralwerks, one message reigned clear on the blotted road to Joel Zimmerman’s returning artist album: this was about music, not club tracks. No stranger to the album platform and more often noted for his social media etiquette than his music, the message was somewhat distracted by the everyday craziness now surrounding the Mau5-headed man behind some of dance music’s most ambivalent movements. In the emotional and vocally documented two years since Album Title Goes Here, Joel Zimmerman has become an artist reborn. You still won’t find him suckling on the buzz of ‘EDM’ advocacy, but even his harshest critics will note a positive change in creative aura for album number seven.
From the very outset of its preview stages, while(1<2) has offered little room for skim listening. After a couple of plays, the juxtaposition of rich melodic composure, eerie cinematic aesthetics, moody mechanics, industrial progressive hallmarks and that all too familiar scratchy electro attitude proves a welcome middle finger to the status quo that Zimmerman has vocally taken stand against over the years. While it’s earliest asset “Avaritia” set the tone with throbbing resonance, subsequent teasers “Seeya” alongside Colleen D’Agastino and the extensive epic “Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer” kept us guessing as to whether we were seeing a true indicator of the album’s shape, or an indicator of Deadmau5’s most versatile works to date.
Thankfully, the album’s additional 21 tracks set the tone for a metamorphosis-like stance on an otherwise underwhelming year for dance albums. The journey through suspenseful opening remark “Avaritia,” and chugging yet stripped back “Creep” offer glorious benchmarks as to the different guises Zimmerman’s studio form now finds, leaving the symphonic “Superbia” and later uplifting “Pets” to show that for all the transitions captured in his social media presence, those made with aural conviction are not to be shrugged at. Remix duties for Nine Inch Nails “Realism” offers the lengthy album’s only truly unnecessary moment, offering little from the coarse and stripped back rendition other than aural evidence of the fearless remixing capacity of Deadmau5. The fact that only one track fails to amass the wow factor among such a lengthy body of work says it all about the stamina of while(1<2): Volatility has done Joel Zimmerman no harm upon re-entry to the full-length platform.
These 25 tracks are sure to challenge the attention span of your everyday EDM hack, but the sheer volume of material is matched with an underlying mission to take listeners somewhere they have never been before, both in the context of Zimmerman’s output and music as a whole. In that respect, while(1<2) could be the most unfeigned attempt at coining a proper full-length dance music record in the past decade. It assumes that as the industry pines for change in the age of big room buoyancy and overpriced festival experiences, it’s higher-earning stars can still make an effort to push boundaries and buttons for the sake of long serving artistic headway. With enough big moments to fit the Mau5’s live experience and enough stunning musical maneuvers to convert those still hailing electronic music as that dead creative space between the dance floor and radio, while(1<2) is an album sure to have people listening from start to finish and on regular rotation. On that merit alone, it may just be the kick up the proverbial rear that the full-length platform needed in 2014.