EDM (“Electronic Dance Music”, if you fancy it full fat) has never had it so good, at least in North America. Whilst the rest of the world has been enjoying the genre’s delights over the last couple of decades or so, it’s only just recently grabbed the attention of music fans on the other side of the Atlantic. Blame Skrillex and David Guetta, both now worldwide stars with a little help of American love.
However, it’s arguably the work of Deadmau5, a man who hides his face with a giant cartoon-like mouse head, that kick-started it all. Joel Zimmerman has spent the last few years building up his fanbase with several albums and compilations, with 2010’s 4×4=12 placing him firmly in the big league. His collaboration with the Foo Fighters at the Grammys this year shows how far EDM has come in terms of commercial appeal.
Throughout his career, the Canadian producer has also made plenty of headlines for his rants in interviews and on social media. He ignited controversy over the summer by telling Rolling Stone that all his contemporaries do on stage is press a few buttons. He’s tried to pick a fight with Madonna via Twitter. And he recently told his fans in a blog post that he was going to be taking a break, stating that he was “miserable” and going to “unplug for a wee bit”.
Upon listening to > album title goes here <, it seems that time for resting and refocusing might be badly needed. It's big and in-your-face, but there's not much else to it. It all sounds rather professional and safe. The Veldt is as arena-ready as you'd expect from a producer of Zimmerman's status whilst Channel 42 is the only song that manages to capture a sense of raw euphoria, partly because it's condensed to a satisfactory five minutes. The closing song, the downtempo Telemiscommunications, is the only one that seems to have a beating heart - perhaps because of Imogen Heap‘s solid vocal performance.
The main problem with > album title goes here < is that so many tunes meander aimlessly for what seems like an eternity. Superliminal is fairly bog-standard and fails to ignite (which, as an opening track, should be its main objective). Fn Pig is guilty of a similar crime. October wastes half of its time prowling around and Sleepless is a totally unremarkable slice of ambience that goes in one ear and out the other. What should have been no more than a hour long has somehow been dragged out to 80 minutes.
No matter how slick the production is, there’s no getting away from the fact that the relentless kick-drum – always seemingly stuck on four-to-the-floor mode – will probably be the thing that lingers long in the memory given how bland > album title goes here < is. Anything above average gets swept away by a wave of unoriginality and stale synths. Bloated and uninspiring, as it progresses, you can hear the momentum slowly disintegrating. Whether or not the popularity of EDM also disintegrates remains to be seen but lacklustre efforts like this won't help its cause.