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Monday, 28 July 2014 08:00

Charting the Music: deadmau5, 'While (1 Is Less Than 2)'

Charting the Music: deadmau5, 'While (1 Is Less Than 2)'
Written by Teddy Wenneker
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Refusing to give in to current EDM trends, Joel Zimmerman (aka deadmau5) crafts an inward-facing album of bare progressive house with "while (1<2)."

The album contains no featured pop singers, head bangers or uplifting chord progressions. It avoids histrionic emotional swells and instead opts for hard, driving beats that would not be out of place on Daft Punk's "Homework."

The first deadmau5 release after signing with Astralwerks, a large electronic music label in New York, the 140-minute "while (1<2)" is more of a cerebral examination of Zimmerman's own musical repertoire and personal influences than it is a danceable house album. The album employs similar synthesizers to those used on past deadmau5 albums and also adds sustained minor and diminished piano melodies to fill out the arrangements, giving the music an uncomfortable creepy feel.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #4 Electronic for the week of July 22, 2014.

Record label, release date and producer: Astralwerks released "while (1<2)" on June 17, 2014; it was produced by Joel Zimmerman.

Can be heard on: "Beep Beep Boop Boop" with Kate and "The Love Mix" with Johnny Orr.

RIYL: Above & Beyond, Daftpunk, Wolfgang Gartner

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario.

Standout tracks: If Nine Inch Nails and Aphex Twin came together to write an electro house song, it would probably sound something like "Creep." The track combines somber piano with industrial synthesizers and a programmed drum loop full of whimsical sounds a la Owl City. Throughout its six-minute duration, "Creep" builds through adding instruments and textures, never reaching any destination and keeping the listener on edge. Zimmerman cleverly ends the piece on a solitary reverberating snare hit that is unsettling enough to make you forget about the whole song that preceded it.

The artist: Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Zimmerman began attending raves as a teen, very much embracing this burgeoning culture. Soon after, he began producing music on his mother's PC and developed his skills further working at a local radio station. At age 17, Zimmerman left Niagara Falls for Toronto where he began working for Image-Line, the Belgian company behind FL Studio, a popular music production program. Zimmerman wrote music on the side to earn some extra money and eventually landed on the top of the Beatport chart with "This Is the Hook." (Sarah Liss, Toronto Life)

The label: Astralwerks, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group is based out of New York. The company was founded in 1993 and distributes music from top electronic acts such as David Guetta, Sweedish House Mafia and Porter Robinson.

Did you know?: The album title "while (1<2)" is a computer-science joke. While loops are used in computer program to indicate that a given section of code should be executed repeatedly until some given condition is no longer met. In the case of "while (1<2)," the code will be loop infinitely because 1 is always going to be less than 2.

Play it while: Coding or otherwise busy in front of a computer late at night.

What the critics say: "Sprawling, ambitious and mostly well-executed, "while (1<2)" may confuse his fan base's Ultra-attending electro house contingent, but deadmau5's double album undoubtedly marks his most mature and forward-thinking release to date." (Matt MedVed, Billboard)

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