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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Album review: Deadmau5, "4x4=12"

By Allison Stewart

There's a man inside that mouse suit. (Courtesy of the artist)

His name is Joel Zimmerman, but you might know him better as Deadmau5, a Coachella-playing, "Gossip Girl"-appearing DJ and the latest entrant in the Next Moby sweepstakes. The Canadian-born Deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse") is more of an ascetic than even Moby.

Prone to disguises (he invariably appears in public covered in an oversize, inexpressibly sinister mouse head), ostentatiously secretive, he's the electronic artist as party-eschewing programming nerd, more Mark Zuckerberg than Daft Punk.

"4x4=12," his would-be breakthrough third CD release, features little in the way of potentially mainstream-endearing flash: Except for the funky, bass-driven house track "Animal Rights," a collaboration with Wolfgang Gartner, "4x4=12" doesn't boast many famous faces, "Play"-like archival samples or vocal guests (the electro rave-up "Sofi Needs a Ladder," with vocals from Sofia Toufa, is one of a few exceptions).

It's sturdy and serious, devoted to progressive house-leaning club bangers both serviceable ("A City in Florida"; the atypically slow, gentle "Raise Your Weapon") and great (such as the propulsive, oddly beautiful "Some Chords"), but something about it feels off. "4x4" is a breakthrough album that doesn't feel like a breakthrough album. Not accessible or crowd-pleasing enough to court non-electronic music fans, not adventurous enough to satisfy die-hards, it pleases, but it rarely dazzles.

Recommended Tracks: "Some Chords," "Animal Rights"

By Allison Stewart  | December 7, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Deadmau5  
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I don't know how you would consider his third studio album "a breakthrough album" considering he is the number 4 or 5 DJ on DJ Mag's list. His breakthrough album was Random Album Title - ever since then he has been the man in the progressive house world and maybe the EDM world in general.

Posted by: NotExactly_ | December 7, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

This review "feels off". I am very "satisfied" with Joel's work. The album has many great tracks including Some Chords, Right this Second, and One Trick Pony. Every track flows smoothly into the next. I highly doubt the album was produced to "court non-electronic music fans". It dazzles me and I am looking forward to listing to 4x4=12 along with For Lack Of A Better Name and Random Album Title. :)

Posted by: whowrotethis_nstuff | December 8, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I guess I shouldn't expect some WaPo intern to review this accurately, but...

A breakthrough album? Who said it was that? If Allison Stewart knew anything about the EDM scene she'd know Deadmau5 has been killing it for years and this album is no different. In fact it's on part with R.A.T., which I rank as his best.

I mean seriously...are we supposed to take the opinion of some DC politico who spends her weekends listening to Sade at Science Club and might have heard Ghosts N Stuff mixed in with Lady Gaga and thougth she was all of the sudden an expert on the EDM scene? Me thinks not. In fact, it's general "music reviewers" who will review Deadmau5 and next review Taylor Swift and expect they have the ability to view each in their proper lenses.

What unfortunately happens is a negative review for something they don't understand leading artists to seek compromise on their music in order to get Allison Stewart to give a favorable review that boosts their sales.

Sorry for the diatribe but such a dismissive review of what I consider quality work, lazily characterized as "breakthrough" deserves it.

Posted by: ChrisDC3 | December 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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