Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ Anniversary Edition: Album Review

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When Daft Punk released its fourth and possibly final mission statement, “Random Access Memories,” into the atmosphere 10 long years ago, it was met with a rarity in any genre and generational praise. At the time of its release, the cool supernova around Daft Punk was so pervasive – and the album’s hits, especially “Get Lucky”, were so mainstream that it topped album charts around the world, winning four Grammys (including album of the year and best designed album) and it earned a massive 8.8 on Pitchfork, a publication that played a minor role in the duo’s rise.

Still, the electronic and dance music of the previous 15-odd years was a grim expression for the pioneering duo whose 2006-7 tour had produced countless impacts and shook the world. Fans expecting another electronic masterpiece got instead a retro album that deliberately used ’70s and ’80s technology and recording techniques to evoke the pristine, perfectionist rhythm of Michael Jackson, Chic, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and others – and even “Fragments”. of Time opened a yacht-rock flag. They have orchestras, choirs, and a battery of world-class musicians, including pioneer funk guitarist Nile Rodgers, virtuoso bassist Nathan East, pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz, and powerful drummer Omar Hakim. There are guitar solos, resounding electric pianos, ’70s funk bass, piledriving drums, and even acoustic guitars. Bored with electronics, the duo “wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with humans,” said duo Thomas Bangalter.

For all its success and praise at the time, these factors have become clearer (as part of a sort of revisionist history, Pitchfork briefly appeared when viewed outside the heat of a generous 10th and arrival moment today, with a stunning 35-minute accompaniment album of previously unreleased material). first lowered his score to 6.8). Objectively, it outweighs in some places, and even more objectively, some of the collaborators and how they were used seemed to be for more bizarre reasons: Daft Punk could work with almost any vocalist they wanted in the world – Adele, Bjork, Celia Bartoli, Tuvan throat singers – but by their nature, they defied expectations and chose Pharrell (known more as a producer than a singer), seventies Paul Williams (better known as a songwriter), and Julian Casablancas (for his voice) from the Strokes. autotuned almost unrecognizably), Todd Edwards (yachts ahoy!) and the duo sing through a vintage ’70s vocoder, and only Animal Collective’s Panda Bear is rated as a truly great singer, albeit eccentric. The challenges weren’t limited to the singers, either: The album opens with a garish instrumental fanfare reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”. They brought in dance music visionary Giorgio Moroder, who had produced Donna Summer’s classic hits, but for an autobiographical speaking part rather than anything traditional musical. A song called “Lose Yourself to Dance” has a slow, booming rhythm that is nearly impossible to dance to. Many of the album’s greatest moments are instrumental.

But despite the second-guess and occasional skipped moments, the genius of the album shines through now more than ever. With over four years in the making and over a million dollars in production, it offers a different take on mathematical melodicism and repetition of the best electronic music – arguably brilliant and filled with some of the most beautiful, exciting and emotional music of its time – equally Bach and Phillip Glass. – but organic instruments, orchestras, and choirs play with almost perfect precision and vibrancy. Many songs seem to have multiple parts, notably “Touch” by Paul Williams, which has a breathtakingly beautiful middle section starring the orchestra and choir; instrumental closer “Contact” is one of the most exciting songs I’ve ever heard in my life, thanks in large part to Hakim’s sprint drums.

First of all, the album the duo wants to make is indisputable, and sometimes it’s worth meeting the artist where they are, forgiving the parts you don’t like and focusing on the parts you love. Does anyone expect Quentin Tarantino’s movies to move fast? I’ve always hated ABBA’s lyrics and New Order’s Bernard Sumner’s lackluster songs, but their music and songs are so amazing that like seeds in a delicious piece of fruit, they become either an acquired taste or something you simply accept.

All of the above is even more dramatically relieved by the bonus tracks that make for a very satisfying album on their own, even if they are the “RAM” part of this deluxe edition: unfinished instruments, alternative arrangements, and even isolated elements, such as choirs or orchestras (“Touch”’s magnificent the middle part is now its own song). While this may seem like a random collection of scraps, it isn’t: Since most of the music is instrumental, it’s in some ways a less frustrating listening experience than the main album – some music is so beautiful and sophisticated that the vocals just mess up a great background or a calm party album. There is the instrumental “Horizon”, a rare bonus track exclusive to Japan; an alternative version of “Lose Yourself to Dance” without Pharrell, in which one of the duo swings with an vocoder; A stunning instrumental rendition of the album’s opening “Give Life Back to Music”, with Chilly Gonzales’ amazing piano solos; an early shot of “Gettin’ Lucky” and a demo of an unreleased Casablancas collaboration called “Infinity Repeating”; A thrilling unfinished orchestra-funk song called “Prime” longs for a movie soundtrack; a version of “Fragments of Time” where you listen to the duo and Edwards discuss ideas for the song; and finally, the magnificent orchestral and chorus part of “Touch”, which was previously featured in the farewell video where the duo announced their separation last year. (A full, piecemeal description is provided below, courtesy of Columbia Records.)

Every supernova has a comeback, a reassessment, more or less before the final verdict is made, and this edition of “Random Access Memories” not only presents the brilliance and flaws of the album in a more dramatic light, but also adds additional sketches, treatments, and abandoned experiments. its context helped make it what it was – one of the greatest albums by one of the most important and influential artists of its era.


Horizon Exit:

This debut opens with the vocals of a children’s choir turned into an instrumental piece. As the last piece of the set, “Touch Epilogue”, also includes children’s voices, this set of pieces was reserved by children’s choirs. The book insert creates a mirror that highlights some of the main themes of this recording: nostalgia for the future, the loop of repetition, and eternity.

Horizon:

“Horizon” was originally released only on the Japanese CD version. Randomly accessible memories It was discovered by fans as a bonus track and in the years after its release. “Horizon”, the final track of the 2013 Japanese version of the album, gave listeners a gentle, symphonic, peaceful ending to the album. This is its first official global release.

GLB™ (Studio Outputs):

This track consists of excerpts from the “Give Life Back To Music” recording sessions with little or no production and showcases Daft Punk’s experiments, energies and what styles they were exploring at the time. It may sound like an impromptu session, but it can be seen as a research recording – listeners can hear multiple inspirations, multiple aspects, and multiple versions of what the song might have become.

Infinite Replay (2013 Demo):

The idea of ​​infinity is at the creative core of this album and is emphasized in this track. Recorded for the original album, “Infinity Repeating” brings back the vocals of Julian Casablancas, who also collaborated on “Instant Crush.” Based on an infinity loop, the progression and words of this piece will make the piece resonate endlessly. The concept of the infinity loop will also be reflected in the official music video as an epic ascent through human history and destiny.

GL (Early Shooting):

This 32-second track, which will eventually become a Record of the Year Grammy winner, consists of studio debuts, some cuts, studio sessions and first tests. Provides a quick look at the making of the iconic piece.

Prime (2012 unfinished):

Daft Punk started working Randomly accessible memories In 2008, the project was paused only after I had the opportunity to work on it. tron The soundtrack presented itself. After the project was published in 2010, the focus was again DATA STORAGE. This piece, “Prime (Unfinished)” is a symbol of time – the unfinished piece showcases another aspect of the creative process and how some work can be set aside along the way.

LYTD (Audio Coder Tests):

In this track, listeners get a behind-the-scenes look at the robot sounds, one of Daft Punk’s signature sounds. Stripping the layers, listeners hear human voices behind vocoders, which are vocoders used to create robotic voices. They hear the robots calling them and the people behind them.

Writing Time Pieces:

Part musical, part documentary, this piece captures an essential songwriting moment between Thomas Bangalter and Todd Edwards. The track is produced by Guy-Manuel de Homen-Christo, while Todd joins Thomas in the studio to write the lyrics and find the best melody. The curtain is drawn and the listener witnesses the moment they find the song’s defining melody and lyrics – a first time experience with the humans behind impenetrable robots. “Fragments of Time” piece, Randomly accessible memoriesTodd Edwards (the only artist to work on Daft Punk’s album twice) optimistically tells how they’ll feel 10 years from now. “Writing Pieces of Time” is a dream within a dream, exploring future nostalgia, anticipation, and beginning like a Russian doll. It’s a “don’t” within a “don’t”. Released ten years after its creation, it bridges the gap in the song’s lyrical message (how will we feel in 10 years?). It is also a rupture from robots in the prism of a group that no longer exists.

Touch (2021 Epilogue):

This version of “Touch” was used as the soundtrack for Daft Punk’s video Epilogue, which was released on February 22, 2021, announcing the end of the band. While Paul Williams’ vocals are featured in the original version of the track, in this version only vocals repeating the words “You’re at home, wait, if love is the answer” from a children’s choir, again showcase the album’s main themes, the cycle of infinity and repetition.

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