Joel Zimmerman has made a very strong brand with his alter ego Deadmau5. Not only has he become known for his frantic and stylish DJ skills, but also for the persona featuring the hyper-deformed mouse head that he wears in performances. This eclectic look is well balanced by Zimmerman’s sheer talent and his latest Deadmau5 release, 4×4=12, is proof that he is much more than a gimmicky appearance.
The album starts with “Some Chords” a very smart and thumping mix that pulls you into the album with breakneck speed and gives you a feel of where 4×4=12 will take you. “Sofi Needs a Ladder” is next and features the excellent vocals of Sofia Toufa (Sofi) who works with Deadmau5 live quite often. The high energy of this song shows that Deadmau5 can work as well with vocals as he can with mixes and samples.
Things are not quite as stellar over the next couple of songs. There is nothing technically wrong with “City in Florida” or “Bad Selection” but aside from a few shining moments there is nothing exceptional about them as well. The songs follow a lot of the house tropes and play the game a little safe. They do flow well and continue to push the album along but the frantic energy and momentum from the first two tracks slows a bit.
Thankfully it is all uphill from that point with the retro infused but fresh track “Animal Rights” layering beat upon beat to bring you right back there enjoying Deadmau5’s vision. “I Said” continues the trend and features fades, layered beats so thick you can almost touch them and a trance feel that is ethereal at times.
“Cthulhu Steps” and “Right This Second” could have been fairly standard house tracks, but DeadMau5 injects enough style, sheer energy and layers on them that they stand out as killer tracks that would make any club move. The next track “Raise Your Weapons” features Greta Svabo Bech” and her voice in this track is amazing and the subtle mix in the background shows that Deadmau5 can resist the frantic beats he usually favors in order to make a great song.
“One Trick Pony” is the second track featuring Sofi and is full of aggressive attitude both in the lyrics and the beats with hard hammers making the song a standout on the album. The closing track, “Everything Before” is brilliant simply because it is a perfect closing song. Not aggressive, not as frantic and layered as the middle tracks, but a solid track that stretches out the beats and mix in a way that you are left wanting more.
Deadmau5’s 4×4=12 is an excellent album, not perfect as there are tracks that flit with being generic, but an incredibly enjoyable listen from start to finish. You could easily see this as a full set he would play live and you would be dancing from start to finish as Deadmau5 effortlessly mixes the tracks with his signature energy. Joel Zimmerman has created a stellar and odd persona and is showing us with 4×4=12 that he has the talent to back up the look.