The grinning Mau5head on the front cover artwork of deadmau5’s latest release is dressed in a quirky combination of the outfits it rocked on four of the Canadian’s previous studio efforts. Following the iconic logo’s lead, new retrospective double-album, 5 Years Of Mau5 brings together the house producer’s finest musical moments from the last half-decade, alongside an additional collection of remixes from the likes of NERO, Eric Prydz, Madeon, Chuckie and Botnek. Serving well as an introduction to the 33-year old’s back catalogue for newer fans, the main tracklist of tunes is a polished line-up of memorable deadmau5 material with plenty of highlights.
In a way that requires no overexertion, the EDM maestro embraces a pop sensibility on the Greta Svabo Bech featured 2011 single “Raise Your Weapon.” The record glows with a moving, chilled quality that doesn’t strive for chart success but rests comfortably in its authenticity. Even when the tune erupts into a dubstep whirlwind, the record retains its pace, enough for a piano riff to seamlessly bring the song back to where it hauntingly begun.
US DJ/producer Kaskade joins the Mau5 on 2009’s “I Remember,” featuring the ethereal efforts of Haley Gibby, whose vocals immediately calm. The track’s dreamy house beat is content to neatly sit under proceedings without dominating the cut, and despite clocking in at just under ten-minutes, “I Remember” retains a refreshing, soothing appeal throughout.
After a muted start, 2010 instrumental “Some Chords” morphs into an infectious, eager dance record – with a number of snappy flourishes thrown in at the track’s gaps to keep things moving. Dubby breaks, electric guitar licks, and sonically twisted vocals are all dished out memorably. The song hammers on like this for seven-and-a-half minutes, but because the track plays intelligently to its own repetition, the tune becomes essential EDM listening.
Also from 2010, “Strobe” is one of the compilation’s more anthemic numbers. With a refrain that’s easy to remember and even harder to forget, deadmau5 dances around the tune’s hooky synth line with impulsive organ keys, stacked beats and a swelling of electronic synth waves. The record is undemanding and comparatively bare, but it’s a strong example of less being much, much more.
It’s easy to see how “Brazil (2nd Edit)” became the inspiration behind Roc Nation alumni Alexis Jordan’s “Happiness” single. The utterly liberated, melodic EDM track is delicate and pulsating at the same time, and a welcome inclusion to the project’s extensive tracklisting.
Singer Sofia Toufa gives a sassy, ballsy performance on 2010’s “Sofi Needs A Ladder,” and the track is driven, exciting and full of surprises production-wise. Although the lyrics are mostly nonsensical and a little vapid, the tune is infectious and littered with ear candy.
“Not Exactly” takes its sweet time to unfurl, beginning with a fairly standard clomping beat and an array of stabby synths that eventually grow into something more urgent. It’s not a landmark track, but the production is clean throughout. That being said, the song could easily be cut in half and still have the same impact.
Originally recorded in 2001, and eventually remade for release in 2011, “Aural Psynapse” doesn’t exactly electrify upon first listen. Still, the record is well constructed and skilfully fuses very separate, distinct sounding parts and passages into a grandiose whole.
In general, the large selection of remixes included on 5 Years Of Mau5 build up to become a listenable patchwork of progressive house/EDM that, for the most part, effectively honours and celebrates the career of the main Mau5. Naturally, as the remixes are varying interpretations of deadmau5 hits, they lack the focus and the single-mindedness seen throughout the centrepiece of the compilation. Yet, the beats are unwaveringly sharp and the sounds are always daring and progressive.
Wax Motif potently re-canvases “Raise Your Weapon” before the iTunes exclusive Maywald remix of the track brings an altogether different, boundless, anything-is-possible feel.
The Beatport exclusive Weiss remix of “Raise Your Weapon” boldly gives the record’s silky vocal its undivided attention – intermittently sliding a stark, bassy beat alongside it for maximum impact. The Michael Woods 2014 remix of “Strobe” doesn’t build too much on the original, replacing the romance of the original with a questionable urgency. Nevertheless, the remix does eventually impact, getting into a comfortable stride towards its finish. Elsewhere, Shiba San manages to jump-start “I Remember,” but like a a bunch of the other remixes, it just makes you realize that much more how strong the original is.
5 Years Of Mau5 is an ideal starting point for new ears to enter the world of the renowned DJ, and should also please seasoned followers as it contains a truckload of exclusive material that tidily rounds up and celebrates the best of deadmau5 thus far. Some of the remixes may ultimately fall a bit short, but the originals are simply too mesmerizing to ignore and still pack the same punch that they did upon initially being released.