Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Review of 'While (1 is less than 2)' by Deadmau5
No-one was expecting the Canadian house producer and Disney-icon-lookalike to drop an album like this. I was expecting lots of sexy female vocals and groovy basslines and whilst the funky Justice-esque closer, ‘Seeya’, fulfils these expectations, the rest of the tracks take a different turn. Instead, Deadmau5 seems to be focusing on atmosphere this time around. ‘While (1<2)’ plays out like an epic sci-fi movie, with lots of sprawling tracks that make use of sonic emptiness. In terms of texture, the album is extremely diverse. There are piano concertos, industrial glitch-fests, post-rock guitars, Mike-Oldfield influenced synthesizer odysseys and, most bizarre of all, a Nine Inch Nails remix. On the surface, this might sound like a bit of a musical mess, but somehow the crafty producer pulls it all together, creating what might just be his most cohesive album to date.
Quite possibly the biggest of all the achievements on this record however is the stellar production. Listening to ‘While (1<2)’ is a cinematic experience. Some of the sounds that are thrown down feel so clean and well-polished you can practically see your face in them. A good example is the sound of passing cars on ‘Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer’. The noise pans from speaker to speaker, sounding so scarily realistic I had to take a peek out the window just to check there wasn’t a drag race taking place outside.
Unfortunately, in the usual Deadmau5 fashion, a few songs on this album are dragged on longer than is necessary. The lengthiness and repetitive nature of some of the tracks on this record does help contribute to the intended spacey atmosphere, but there are times when Deadmau5 takes it to the excess, such as on the track ‘Phantoms Can’t Hang’. The cold synthesizer riff on this tune is pretty cool at first, but after nine minutes of being looped with little progression, it starts to grow irritatingly monotonous.
Unintentional lullabies such as these can make While (1<2) feel like a marathon in parts. It also doesn't help that this album is two hours long, consisting of two discs. Indeed, the title of this album is true, one is less than two, but sometimes less is more - a lesson that Deadmau5 could do with learning.
Saying this, as morbidly obese as this album is, this doesn’t take away from the unforgettable moments of prettiness and creativity that are sprinkled throughout this LP. As already covered, the production is phenomenal, and this gives the album so much texture – a unique selling point on its own. Deadmau5 has shown the haters that club bangers aren't all he's capable of and I hope he gains more fans than he loses with this record. This is impressive, well-crafted stuff. Not bad at all for a rodent without a pulse!