Let’s face it, recent EDM efforts from this year haven’t been great. Disappointing and worringly limited, the music has been pretty bad. So, in conclusion, a man of Deadmau5’s talent won’t find it difficult to step up and wipe the competition from the floor. His latest album while (1<2), does this with ease, even though that isn’t saying much.
It’s like watching Usain Bolt beat a bunch of children in an egg and spoon race.
His most ambitious yet, the album spans over an eye watering two hours, and includes several of his SoundCloud uploads. The new, experimental material and inclusion of his SoundCloud uploads gives a piece of work that is a million miles away from the stuff they play at Vegas. By playing with many genres, Zimmerman quite happily shoves his fists into as many pies as he can, but never strays too far away so he can’t return to his prog-house foundations. And… unfortunately, that’s where the album falls a bit flat.
As mentioned before, the album is over two hours long and deploys several different genres with untethered glee, but sometimes you rather wish Deadmau5 went for quality rather than quantity. The prog/post-rock sensibilities that plague tracks such as Silent Picture, Invidia, Creep, Somewhere Up Here and Bleed would sound great in a soundtrack for a Nicolas Refn, David Fincher or Michael Mann movie… but as lavish breathers between high-octane, dark, club smashers? Basically, Deadmau5 spreads himself far too thin at some points.
Creep, for example, takes up the daunting task as a follow up to the throbbing and brilliantly hypnotic Terrors In My Head. It starts of with some Erik Satie, Aphex Twin style piano chords and stretches out the same motif for over a minute. It’s not long before Zimmerman opts out of this uncharted territory and lets the whole thing shudder into a poor KOAN Sound or Hybrid knock-off.
However, it’s tracks like Gula and Avaritia which really bring the styles together. They are connected with a signature riff usually deployed in the breakdown of several tracks and it helps tie the album together. These themes, styles and motifs hark back to Deadmau5’s promise that this would be his most accomplished album yet. Well, despite the unnecessary track lengths and genre-bending, it certainly has ‘been put together like one’.
So, while (1<2) is moody, repetitive and it sometimes drags things way out of proportion. Is the album bad? No, because once it kicks off, it hits the ground running.
Tracks like Pets are classic Deadmau5 material, with the usual soft and swirling synth keys and pads that made us fans in the first place. Then, Mercedes and My Pet Coelacanth employ a hard, techno vibe which we saw at his Ultra performance and hint at the new direction he’ll no doubt be taking in the future.
Also, there is the fan-favorite Phantoms Can’t Hang, the hair-raising highlight of the album. The haunting vocals and predatory, dark, synth basslines in the breakdown do sound like it belongs in the Drive soundtrack but perhaps that is no bad thing. Because this is when Deadmau5 is at his absolute best, when his impulsive nature and reckless self-indulgence strikes upon a gold-mine of genius and reveals some great catalysts for a thriving dance-floor.