Deadmau5, '4x4=12' (Ultra)

5
4x4=12
Critical Mass
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Label: Ultra

by Philip Sherburne

For someone who professes to prefer his studio to the limelight, Deadmau5 sure gets around. This year, the Grammy nominee headlined Coachella, the Olympics, and MTV's VMAs, where he was house DJ. He cameo'd on Gossip Girl and even appears as a character in DJ Hero. But there have been stumbles along the way: He and dubstep producer Rusko Twitter-beefed after a backstage incident in Denver; then onstage at D.C.'s 9:30 Club, Deadmau5 collapsed from "exhaustion," while bedecked in his customary costume -- an oversized mouse head that serves as his brand and shield against the outside world.

4x4=12 is his third album as an artist-producer, and it's aimed beyond Electric Daisy Carnival's forest of fuzzy bras and platform boots. (After Random Album Title and For Lack of a Better Name, it's easily his most ambitious title.) Punchy progressive house predominates (the Baroque-inspired "Some Chords" and the more linear "I Said"). But "Animal Rights," a collaboration with DJ-producer Wolfgang Gartner, obviously grabs at Daft Punk's electro-funk crown, while "One Trick Pony" and "Raise Your Weapon" offer Deadmau5's approximation of dubstep's wobble and buzz. "Sofi Needs a Ladder," with its grating female rap, is like a tweaker version of M.I.A.

Hipsters will hate it, but that's partly the point. Admitting he was "born and raised an Internet hate machine," Deadmau5 knows the power of provocation.

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