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June 17, 2014

For his seventh album, Deadmau5 has turned from an electro-house polymath into the world's most unnecessary Nine Inch Nails tribute act. With a running time longer than the new X-Men movie, the two-disc While(1<2) gives Mau5 plenty of room to spiral downward into many of Trent Reznor's favorite tricks – the moody minor-key melodies, the Erik Satie-derived piano miniatures, the flickering static and machine fuzz, the bent and tortured notes, the plodding chug on acoustic guitar. Twice you can hear him end a song by taking his foot o the piano's sustain pedal, just like NIN collaborator Aphex Twin's "Avril 14th." There's even a remix of a seven-year-old Nine Inch Nails song ("Survivalism") that makes it sound like it came from 1999. However, erase the Reznor fan fiction from this 141-minute behemoth, and there's a solid 64-minute house record hidden in there, trading in night-cruise synths and walloping throb. Highlights like "Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer" and "Mercedes" are revving engines that gleam with vintage textures: Deadmau5 shines brightest, it seems, when he turns off The Social Network and puts on Drive.

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