Deadmau5 | 4x4=12

Ultra (2010)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  November 30, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


The world of the superstar DJ is not dissimilar to that of the superstar architect: an early career rush to distinguish oneself from one's peers in a field filled with non-conformist conformity can often lead, upon superstardom, to the creation of a final product that sticks out more for being a grotesque mockery of the art than a towering accomplishment (e.g., Frank Gehry/DJ Tiesto). For Canadian deckmeister Joel Zimmerman a/k/a deadmau5, the high profile gained through an electrifying live act of "progressive" house (and the gimmicky attention paid to his Day-Glo, Residentsy mouse-head uniform) merely raised expectations for his third long-player. The result may surprise some just looking to get lost in Glowstick Land: sure, there are plenty of K-hole zone-outs, but just as often Zimmerman puts songcraft and danceability ahead of the usual sci-fi-filter tricks. Part of 4x4=12's appeal is the way he takes previously released work and rejiggers it with a new focus on vocals. A few cuts feature hooks from Sofi Toufa, whose sass on "Sofi Needs a Ladder" is an infectious dance-floor motivator. "Drop you like a needle on the record, scratch my itch," Sofi snaps, reminding you that after hours of somnambulant beat tweaking, tracks like this indeed do just that. Which isn't to say that 4x4=12 lets the singer do all the talking: in centerpiece "Cthulhu Sleeps," Zimmerman takes the basic sound and feel of standing up too quickly and folds it into a kinetic grid of slow descends and graceful glides that conjure physical sensation. Here's hoping he'll continue to intertwine hooky jubilance with his gift for sonic head-fuckery.

  Topics: CD Reviews , DJ, music review, Deadmau5,  More more >
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