W:/2016ALBUM/ may not be deadmau5's best work yet, but there's definitely still something there.
With W:/2016ALBUM/, his eighth studio record and first since taking a break from music with depression, deadmau5 channels “80’s sci-fi vibes” after a steady start with ‘4ware,’ whcih sets the progressive house tempo early on. Sandwiched between it and the tempo-increasing and intriguingly-named ‘Cat Thruster’ is the quite ridiculous, synth-heavy ‘2448’ – I wouldn’t entirely disagree with the unusal remark that it’s like Robbie Williams’ ‘Rock DJ’ in terms of head synth line ferocity.
Even by this stage, it’s clear to see that W:/2016ALBUM/ ebbs and flows between slightly different electronic sub-genres, with Joel Zimmerman, the man inside the helmet, saying in the lead up to its release that he “doesn’t even like it” and telling NME in a peculiar cover piece that it’s “just the culmination of three years of shit lying around on a hard drive.” This potentially explains the fact that all of the 11 tracks were actually available to listen to before the album release, surprisingly. It doesn’t seem rushed, though – the highlights from its opening half are definitely the brilliant ‘Imaginary Friends’ and the following ‘Let Go’ (which, thanks to Grabbitz, is the only song on the record to feature vocals), and there are definite vibes of early Tiësto material, just like a (much slower) ‘Love Comes Again’ in the composition of the latter, featuring traces of trance.
‘No Problem,’ the only track that comes close to ‘Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff’ (not only my favourite deadmau5 song, but one of my favourite songs of all time) combines foot-stomping inducing beats and ‘robotic’ sounds during the irrepressible near seven-minute track, however W:/2016ALBUM/ begins to slightly out after this in terms of sound rather than a drastic dip in quality, per se. The curiously named ‘Three Pound Chicken Wing’ – seeing a theme here with weird titles yet? – still packs a punch in places, but closer ‘Whelk Then’ has a sombre and finale feel to it before an 11-minute extended cut of ‘Let Go’ is attachedd on the end as an extra.
Albeit less so than other 2016 highlights like Eric Prydz’s Opus, W:/2016ALBUM/ strikes a chord as inspiring and motivational yet without the stereotypical heaviness often associated with electronic music, making it ideal for both relaxing and also keeping on top of looming university deadlines. Even though it’s not quite on the level of deadmau5’s best work, I’d still recommend it as there are highlights and tracks with potential to grow which make W:/2016ALBUM/ worthwhile for those productive (in hope) library sessions coming up in the new year.
W:/2016ALBUM/ is out now via mau5trap