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Bang-Up Job

Deadmau5
Drew Ressler

Canadian producer Joel Zimmerman, AKA Deadmau5, can come off as a dead ringer for other dance favorites. There are pretty good odds that you could put on some new Deadmau5 tracks, chant "Because we are ... Your friends," and have a convincing facsimile of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. or any of the other overdriven synth producers who have fueled the last five or so years of club life.

There's only so far you can flip a red-lining organ tone, as evidenced by the combo of new Deadmau5 tracks "Moar Ghosts 'n' Stuff" and "Ghosts 'n' Stuff." They both appear on this new full-length artist album, For Lack of a Better Name, and they keep the slurred MIDI tracker blips, bristling sawtooth chords, and flatulent cutoff bass going for ten minutes. The following track, "Hi Friend," is similar to those, but on helium. It's peak-hour "banging electro," but there's no frenzied pop shot; it's a hands-in-the-air purgatory, not a perfect storm.

Much more interesting by contrast is the album's second half. Beginning with the fifth track, "Bot," the album takes a dark turn, burrowing through leaky tech-house pneumatics into more "progressive" territory. The filter saturation has been tuned down, so to speak, and so has the overly calculated cheekiness. It's not that Deadmau5 should go minimal, it's just that some variety is nice — you can only get ridden so hard for so long before numb isn't fun.

Perhaps with this in mind, Deadmau5 uses the album's last two tracks, "The 16th Hour" and "Strobe," to carry a more melodic caress. There's more of a steady kick here than a ramping clip. From the sound of things, Zimmerman is happily prepared to leave the crowds equal parts pounded and panting or gently fondled and musing, and probably muttering something about how Deadmau5 has gone so commercial. For Lack of a Better Name is more of the craftily sequenced same, and no clubber is really complaining.

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