Dance Music 101 With a blizzard of festival and television appearances in 2010 ranging from Coachella to the MTV VMA’s, Toronto’s Joel Zimmerman a.k.a. Deadmau5 has emphatically joined the short list of dance-music auteurs known to those outside dance-music circles. As a result, this month’s mathematically-challenged release has been met with deserved anticipation.
What is Joel Zimmerman’s angle? I would really like to be filled in on some of his secrets. Did he just one night decide he wanted to change electronic music, or was this part of his diabolical plan? Did he mean for his screen name and evil Mickey Mouse helmets to become iconic? For those of you who have somehow not read about any kind of music anywhere in the past year, Joel Zimmerman is better known to the world as deadmau5, the DJ who “doesn’t want to be called a DJ,” something I never quite understood…. until now that is.
With the illuminated big head and all, Canadian producer Joel Zimmerman's Deadmau5 alias is a blast to see live, but you can also bring quite a bit of that tech-house-meets-slammin'-electro excitement home with 4x4=12. As bad as the masked one is at math, he's conversely just as good at making you dance, as this unmixed but almost non-stop set of big room tunes throbs and snaps with that Daft Punk sense of style. Rabid fans should be warned, though, that they've already heard the big highlights, as tracks like "Some Chords," "Sofi Needs a Ladder," the wicked "Animal Rights," and others had been previously released on 12"s, but the remaining cuts are hardly filler.
He’s probably best known to mainstream audiences as the ”house band” at this year?s VMAs, rocking the turntables from beneath a giant mouse-head helmet. Here the Canadian DJ bends his booming electro-house beats toward actual song territory — check out the Kelis-copping ”Sofi Needs a Ladder” — but? 4 X 4 = 12 still feels like club-rat fodder. If the ?mau5 longs for a Moby-style breakthrough, his riffs ?n? blips will have to add up to something more.
Canadian electro-house producer Deadmau5 is one of the most popular dance music artists in the world, which means he's got a target painted on his back where the critics can take aim. Haters complain that he represents the worst knuckle-dragger impulses in club music and that he's the soundtrack of choice for Jersey Shore wannabes the world over. Fair enough, but if you listen to this disc accepting the nature of mainstream dance music, you've got to give him some credit for being so successful at it.
An onstage collapse this summer and subsequent cancelled performances hasn't stopped Canadian producer Joel Zimmerman's Deadmau5 phenomenon continuing apace. He's now notched up 14m MySpace plays for individual tracks, won dance music awards and will shortly become the first electronic artist to follow in the bootsteps of rockers Led Zeppelin and Oasis to headline Earls Court. Undoubtedly, the Deadmau5 appeal hinges on the astonishing live show in which Zimmerman performs in a giant, illuminated mouse's head, but it wouldn't work without his tracks.
In direct opposition to the mainstream status of prolific DJ/producers such as Diplo and Danger Mouse, deadmau5 (a.k.a. Joel Thomas Zimmerman) seems content to keep a low profile, happily performing in Daft Punk-style anonymity with trademark cartoon-headed mask. The Canadian DJ’s unadorned electro productions remain largely untainted by Auto-Tune or current Europop trends, and his third full-length release, 4x4=12, is an unapologetic journey into plain-faced, synth-heavy house, obvious in its odes to Human After All and striving to perfect beat-centric mood-setting.
A third album which stops short of revealing the man behind the mouse. Alex Denney 2010 Ten years into the new millennium and the fate of the superstar DJ is in even ruder health than it was at the tail end of the last one. Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Basshunter, Magnetic Man — all are capitalising on pop’s resurgent interest in European club sounds, rudely scraping back chairs at the charts’ top table in the process.