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Joel Zimmerman’s creative relationship with classical music began by chance. “I occasionally do this thing called ‘mau5trap Monday’ on my livestream — kids donate to charity, I read the posts and link to their music. Greg sent one in and it was an insane film score, fully orchestrated and everything, and I thought it was a joke,” the illustrious producer known better as deadmau5 admitted to LA Weekly.
The “Greg” he’s referring to is Greg Reveret, an accomplished composer, instrumentalist, and scoring extraordinaire from South Africa. Ideas “bounced around” in Zimmerman’s head, leading him to reach out to Reveret to collaborate on a project together.
As the cliché goes, “the rest is history.”
Where’s the drop? does just fine without the explosion of bass-backed kicks and loud synthesizers that deadmau5 refers to in his new album project’s title. Instead, it casts his music in a profound, contemplative light through is delicate layers of string, horn, percussion, and piano. A brief rendition of “Imaginary Friends” kicks off the collection of reimagined tunes, settling into an exploratory soundspace with the help of Reveret’s symphonic vision.
“Luxuria” only continues on this tangent, with curious echoes of its central hook passing through the orchestra’s various sections in a fluid motion. The piece is one of the seven from deadmau5’ 7 output that helped inspire where’s the drop?. It feels as though the deadly sin-based project was made to be interpreted in classical form, or at least the skill put forth by Reveret in transcribing and arranging the music makes it so. “Avaritia,” the original being a highly futuristic number, sounds particularly ethereal, slowly unfolding through pianos and strings across its three-minute span and coming down gently into a bout of chords. “Acedia” has this effect as well.
On a more dramatic note, “Gula” takes a sweeping turn. With the sin its title alludes to being “greed,” the generous heaps of ascending string melodies that swell up over equally lush piano chords make aural sense. “Ira” is particularly dark, equipped with resounding progressions in minor key that paired with staccato rhythms makes for a tense atmosphere.
Zimmerman naturally rinsed some of his biggest hits with scoring treatment as well. “Coelacanth” is a pleasing expansion of “My Pet Coelacanth,” with Reveret taking the orchestral parts already existing in the original and transforming them into an eight-minute journey that exudes a curious nature. “F’n Pig” — an edgier single that appears difficult to score — melts under Reverts’s expertise, remolding into an enticing composition armed with stark cello solos and Handel-esque communication between brass, violin, and viola.
One cannot forget “Strobe,” of course. The iconic single closes out the album on an emotive note, pulling at the heartstrings with its familiar melodic embrace — now enhanced by expressive string sections and piercing harmonies. Its trademark synth progression is preserved, reminding us of the album’s origins in electronica.
Tying together where’s the drop? is a look into the future, with his unreleased production “Monophobia” being given the Reveret touch. The piece is transformed into a gentle lullaby, with its central hook being played out with a minimal piano approach while drawn-out violin measures provide a hint of bittersweet flavor to the finished product.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of where’s the drop? — according to deadmau5 in his LA Weekly interview — is that it was thrown together by him and Reveret in a matter of weeks. This speaks to both their talents as musicians; though they could have spent more time enhancing and perfecting the project, what they created in such a short span of time sounds well thought-out and carefully crafted to the even a classically-trained ear.
Their creative chemistry has hit the mark in this case, and furthermore might help inspire others in younger generations to begin diving beneath electronic music creation and into the world of live instrumentation.
Photo Credit: AI Visuals