We all remember our first love. No, not Dave from your fifth grade math class. Your first electronic love. The first techno, trap, euro-trance, progressive house—the first iteration of EDM you ever heard that made you stop in your tracks, put down your Paramore CD and say, “Huh, where the hell have I been this whole time?”
For me, it all started with the first haunting, echoing notes of deadmau5’s “Strobe.” I can’t remember exactly what I was doing or at what particular moment I stumbled upon the song, but it is in no way an exaggeration to say that in a superficial, compartmentalized sort of way, it changed my life. I don’t know if this is a personal illness or if others amongst you are afflicted with it as well, but I cannot be casually interested in a song that I like. I find it, I love it immediately, and I play it on repeat nonstop for the next day, week, etc. With “Strobe,” I want to say it was more like months. I was listening to it in the shower, in the car, when going to sleep, when I woke up—I was forcing my parents and siblings to listen to it and nursing salty wounds when they inevitably asked me to turn the space noise off and put on some Lady Gaga or SOMETHING, sheesh. So yeah, it would be an understatement to say that “Strobe” changed me. More specifically, it completely changed the trajectory of my musical taste as a teenager, causing me to veer off my otherwise straight and unchallenged path of alt-rock and into the vast and varied world of electronica.
So I suppose, due in part to the massive role his song played in shaping the Play-Doh that is my eclectic musical taste, deadmau5 will forever hold a special place in my cold, black heart. Needless to say, when the mau5’s newest album, W:/2016ALBUM/, dropped last week, I was prepared, noise-canceling headphones in hand, to ignore any and all human interaction and sit in a dreamlike state at my desk, immersed in some top-notch “space noise.”
Was I disappointed? No, I wouldn’t go so far, or so negative. It’s a good album, a damn fine one in my most humble of opinions, with singles like “4ware” and “Let Go” featuring Grabbitz acting as clear stand-outs. But W:/2016ALBUM/ also impresses with slow-build and gratingly energetic numbers like “No Problem” and jazzy, bass-heavy departures such as the always creatively titled “Cat Thruster.” All in all, I enjoyed the hour or so I spent submerged in the trance-inducing world of deadmau5, 2016. So why, when I finally came up for air, did I feel sort of … empty?
Call me dramatic, but I believe it all boils down to this hard, yet inescapable, truth—there is no replacing a phenomenon. There is no replicating that first a-ha moment, especially not after that moment, that song, has been assigned such grandiose stature in your mind. As much as we all might like to go back to the time before we heard those few, singular songs that took our breath away, or made us change our whole perspective on music, just so that we can replicate the experience of hearing them for the first time, we can’t. We are left with the offerings of the future, however pleasing to the ear, which will inevitably fall short of our one, true, and first musical love.