Last week, Deadmau5 announced that his time as a Beats 1 radio host was coming to an end. But when one door to the dance floor closes, as the ancient EDM saying goes, another pops open: The penultimate episode of the DJ’s “Mau5Trap Presents” show coincided with a new release from his Mau5Trap label, We Are Friends: Vol. 5. While the series was started in 2012 as a means of highlighting lesser-known artists, much of that particular value now appears lost. There’s an odd lack of urgency to the latest installment, some of which springs from the fact that “Mau5Trap Presents” has already given us so much new music from these artists, including full mixes by BlackGummy, No Mana, and Rezz, among others.
All of this previous exposure makes We Are Friends: Vol. 5 fairly uninteresting as a showcase of new music. The tracks quickly blend into a continuous thud of minimalist industrial beats, with Attlas’s “Crawl” living up to its namesake and Dom Kane’s “Running Out” never achieving new ground after the initial 30 seconds. No Mana, a producer who often invokes old video-game sounds, does step outside of the compilation’s gray aesthetic box with the cheekily titled “Something to Write About,” and Rezz’s “Voice in the Wall” offers a nice take on her easily recognizable postapocalyptic stomp without quite living up to her recent EP, The Silence Is Deafening. Deadmau5 himself ends up providing the compilation’s highlight with “Saved,” a slowly ascending progressive house track that offers the kind of musical arc that a number of other tracks here could use. The artists on this compilation are plenty talented, but “Saved” is a reminder that there’s a reason Deadmau5 remains the label’s biggest star.