Whether you’re a Daft Punk fan or not, you’ve probably heard an opinion on their latest Random Access Memories release. What have you heard? You can leave a comment and let us know if you’d like 😉
Here’s what our Skirmishere Stewie had to say:
In the wonderful world of Music, Silence is Golden.
This is certainly the case of Daft Punk, a group that has build up its unique mythos upon a solid foundation of mystery and anonymity. Silence is punctuated by immense eruptions igniting the musical scene that confound as well as delight. Surprise promotional stunts like what occurred at this year’s Coachella only serve to fuel the antics of this notoriously insular group.
It’s been a silence of seven years this time around (not including the less than inspired soundtrack for Tron: Legacy) and if the promotional material that has been circulating on the internet is correct then this album has been in production for five years, a long time to spend on a single release; the question that has to be asked at this point should be self evident: Has it been worth the wait?
The first thing that stands out, before even hearing the music, should be the amount of different collaborators that have worked on this project, names drawn from a wide cross section of musical influences and genres. People like Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder appear alongside Todd Edwards and Pharrell Williams. The collaborations brought onto this project should offer a clue to the kind of direction this album could take and on first listening, the decision to use live instruments throughout the production is one of the most prominent points that delineate Random Access Memories from any Daft Punk album previously released. Gone are the Roland drum machines that punctuated tracks like “Around the World” and “One More Time”, this time replaced gated acoustic kit played to metronomes; a decision that may well prove to be one of the decisive points that will split Daft Punk fans right down the middle regarding Random Access Memories.
It’s vitally important to note, however, that that signature Daft Punk sound permeates this album, despite the new territory being traversed in the production. While the sounds one would expect from a group with a strong grounding in House music may be less apparent in Random Access Memories, the arrangements still draw heavily from that particular source, the sound transmuted by their deft alchemy into a dance album that holds a mirror up to seventies West Coast rock, Disco even elements of Jazz Fusion (I think it’s the use of vocoders throughout that reminds me of Herbie Hancock!) so that part of the magic of this release shimmers in the light of these disparate reflections. Is it wrong of me to be reminded of the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac while listening to a Daft Punk album? Considering the way the entire album is assembled, I don’t think that that’s an entirely outlandish question to ask (To answer that question for yourself just check out “Fragments of Time”).
For those of you who miss the old House influenced Daft Punk, their “Doin’ it Right” at the very least resembles the House-oriented proclivities of previous releases.
And for good measure there are a number of simply sumptuous string arrangements on this album, which is something this reviewer could not be more pleased with. In particular the arrangement on “Gorgio by Moroder” is an especially gorgeous addition while “Beyond” left me momentarily speechless.
Then, to finish out the album is “Contact”, a track that could not have been produced by any other artists than a super-group of Men-Androids (the drum breaks contained therein are currently sending shivers down my spine!).
So lets lay out the major points:
Is this a Daft Punk album unlike any other previous Daft Punk albums? Certainly.
Will it divide fans? Most definitely.
(Editors note: Some social media voices:
“Having downloaded a leak of the new Daft Punk album, I hope its a fucking fake.” – Jimi Kavanagh
” So the new Daft Punk album sounds like they bought the rights to all the music from Eurosport then tweaked it a little bit and got some cabaret funk band from Butlins or the Late Late show to play along with it.” 🙂
Was it worth the wait? In my opinion, that’s a categorical and emphatic YES.
To sum up, I think that fans of purely electronic music will have a bone to pick with Daft Punk over Random Access Memories, although if you can appreciate the boldness of spirit that went into producing the record then you might just like what Daft Punk have offered listeners on this outing. An appreciation of certain genres outside of the world of electronic music certainly won’t hurt either.
The record is officially released on May 17th, right at the start of the summer; with Random Access Memories, Daft Punk have provided the summer of 2013 with its soundtrack.
If you’d like to hear a Daft Punk interview with BBC 6’s Lauren Lavern check this out: