Canadian producer/DJ Deadmau5 is pretty dismissive on Twitter, but few might’ve expected him to dismiss the album he was preparing to release. His eighth studio album W:/2016ALBUM/—named after the computer drive on which he stored his new songs—might occasionally feel “rushed/slapped together,” but it also demonstrates how Deadmau5 continues to expand his sonic palette while his commercial peers spin their wheels in the same EDM muck.
“Deus Ex Machina” recalls Burial dubstep mixed with garden-variety techno, and “Whelk Then” updates midtempo Chemical Brothers, which is to say they’re not very distinctive. But other tracks impress, like “Snowcone,” its ambient laments nicely offset by a breakbeat groove, and “No Problem” and “Imaginary Friends,” two hypnotic tracks that renew the classic Deadmau5 aesthetic with vintage synths. Those instruments lend a throwback air to much of W:/2016ALBUM/, but it’s the different ways his artistic intuition processes them that makes the effort more compelling—and cohesive—than Deadmau5 would credit it.