deadmau5 For Lack of a Better Name Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

This mix will only further his already admirable reputation.

Mike Diver 2009

A true success story of 2009, emerging from the progressive house underground to become a chart contender, deadmau5 – or Toronto-based Joel Zimmerman to his folks – is in a rare position of being both critically feted and able to court serious attention from the mainstream.

This new mix album – his own material, but sequenced so it doesn’t stop for even a second’s silence – features Zimmerman’s popular collaboration with Pendulum’s Rob Swire, Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff. At the time of writing the song has enjoyed a fantastic nine weeks inside the UK top 40, making it one of the biggest dance anthems of the year. But better, and included here, is the Moar-prefixed instrumental take on the hit – it’s like Hammer Horror Justice, or a brain-damaged Daft Punk, and every bit as evilly euphoric as that sounds.

Unlike many single-artist albums of its ilk, For Lack of a Better Name does well to not run out of steam, and keeps its audience guessing by flitting from aggressive beats and synthesizer drones to upbeat, almost samba-styled compositions and soundtracks from the nightmares of hardened 16-bit veterans – SNES rather than Mega Drive, obviously. Bot manages to explore all of these tangents, and more besides, in just five minutes. It’s this album’s fulcrum, its throbbing heart of darkness.

Soma is the one track where the pedal’s lifted, and the incessant pulverising of one’s grey matter ceases for a few minutes. While fairly frantic of microbe-tiny beats, its fidgety core is surrounded on both sides by some pleasantly plaintive piano introspection. The title track ups the cheese factor to nostalgic highs, sounding like it could have been lifted straight from Pacha’s Ibiza dancefloor circa 1996 – it shimmers and shakes like trance classic Age of Love – and opener FML is a flashback to another side of 1990s dance, namely the organic cut-and-paste percussion of DJ Shadow.

A neat introduction to an artist with a wealth of material beneath his belt, this enjoyable compilation of tracks old and new will only further Zimmerman’s already admirable reputation, expanding his audience into whole new areas of approval. Let’s just hope he never spoils everything by taking that brilliantly silly mask off.

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