Review Summary: A mau5 trapped in a cage: the severe limitations of his own genre6 of 18 thought this review was well written
I'll admit to not fully understanding electronic music, but that doesn't mean I'm not qualified to tell you why most of it sucks. I could, for example, tell you that the sound of a trombone is unpleasant without knowing the nuances of the instrument.
If I could sum up most electronic music in one word, it would be "repetition," a device which I have no problem with in small doses. All the best composers use repetition. All the best composers use repetition. The problem is that most EDM songs repeat things to an extent where listeners would have to be on drugs to enjoy them, or perhaps just ignorami who have never been exposed to dynamic or interesting music, a bit like the prisoners in Plato's Cave. A good example of how I believe ostinato should be used is "The National Anthem" by Radiohead, which features the same bassline throughout the entire song, but enough changes in the rest of the instrumentation to make it interesting. Sadly, these changes in dynamics are rarely found in electronic music, and the listener is generally treated to a barrage of unchanging drum beats, and sterile computer noises. Yes, this is a cliché, but remember that every cliché contains a hint of truth. I even find the cliché about metal being "just screaming" to be an accurate description of 75% of heavy music nowadays.
My strongest criterion for rating albums is playability. Could I enjoy listening to this at almost any time? Can it consistently hold my interest? If there's some kind of condition required for me to listen to something, my rating drops immediately (for example, I gave the new Trivium album a 1.5 because I'm rarely in the mood to torture myself). Since I'm only on drugs about 60% of the time, and they're not the kind of drugs required to like house music, I'm giving this a 2.5. There are some enjoyable moments, but not enough to save it from being a dull "background music at a club" type of affair. It's certainly not something I'd want to sit down and listen to ever again.
Ask yourself this, deadmau5 fans- would anyone even care about this guy if he didn't wear that obnoxious mouse helmet all the time? It must be the reason for his success, because I don't hear much that would distinguish his music from other DJs, or even the throngs of amateurs dicking around with Fruity Loops in their spare time. I couldn't see Joel making it so far in the business based on social skills either. After reading his posts on Facebook and Twitter, he strikes me as douchebag, and it wouldn't surprise me if he actually thought 4x4=12 judging by his atrocious syntax.
The opener of this 4x4=12, "Some Chords" highlights its mediocrity in a tragically ironic way. Would you ever pick up a book called "Some Words," or watch a movie called "Some Scenes?" I'm tired of artists who make no attempt at making their music seem out-of-the ordinary. Don't be a smarta55 and try to tell me the title is some kind of superlative, as in "some
chords you've got there Joel!" The main motif of this song is just a I b6 b7 progression, which has been done a million times before (see Iron Maiden).
I actually like "Sofi Needs A Ladder," even though the overall feel and meter of the song are eerily reminiscent of "Crank That" by Soulja Boy. The vocal melodies are catchy and well-delivered, even if the lyrics are rather insipid ("you left a bad taste in my mouth, my sour patch kid"
). Sadly, this song goes on about twice as long as it needs to and eventually starts to grate. The other two songs featuring this Sofi character are awful, especially "One Trick Pony" which is set over those grotesque dubstep noises we all love to hate. Could Joel be admitting what he really is with the title of this track?
The only other song I find even remotely memorable is "Raise Your Weapon," which starts as a rather nice ballad but unfortunately regresses into another bleepity bloopity affair. The tracks I haven't mentioned yet are just boring. There's just no other word for them. I don't understand how deadmau5 can be labeled as "progressive" house with songs this monotonous, unless of course, DJs have miraculously managed to redefine the word "progressive." If this seriously constitutes "progressive house," I'd hate to hear the normal stuff.
I guess the point I'd like to stress more than else in this review is that is I simply don't understand electronic music, and don't understand why people enjoy electronic music. Maybe I'm a bit too human, but I find it to be incredibly artificial sounding and hard to connect with, even when it incorporates organic instruments like the human voice. I truly miss the human touch in music nowadays, and interpret the widespread popularity of artists like deadmau5 to mean that Aldous Huxley's vision of the future is really coming true.