A modern classic equivalent to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon,
This review is from: Random Access Memories (Audio CD)
I think it’s a safe bet that no respectable music fan would be able to compile a Top 10 list of the year’s best music without including Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories somewhere. Almost prog rock in its scope, Daft Punk’s fourth album Random Access Memories is an ambitious tour-de-force from the French techno duo.
Using live musicians and eschewing the particular brand of sample-based house music that made their name, the opening guitar riff on ‘Give Life Back to Music’ throws the door open to a new era of EDM, seguing into a lilting funk groove which only the involvement of Nile Rodgers could muster. The ex-Chic guitarist’s mastery is ever-present on smash hit comeback single ‘Get Lucky,’ the near-ubiquitous nu-disco ‘70s groove guaranteed to get anyone dancing whatever their stance on bellbottoms and flairs.
As is the custom – guest slots aside – Daft Punk’s robotic vocals are enabled by Thomas de Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo’s use of vocoder. This enables the duo’s use of melodies to have an air of detachment amplified in their existential lyrics in what is ostensibly a concept album, with Random Access Memories referring most explicitly to parallels between human memory and computer data storage (RAM).
Most rock fans have always appreciated how coming up with riffs has always been Daft Punk’s specialty, despite their level of fame on the club-headlining circuit. They’ll be pleased with ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ which uses snippets of an interview with synth pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder to tell the story of the evolution of electronic music, kicking off with a modular synthesizer to bash out what is probably the most atypical Daft Punk riff on the album.
“Once you free your mind about the concept of harmony and music being correct,” we hear Giorgo Moroder tell us, “you can do whatever you want, so nobody told me what to do and there was no preconception of what to do.” In what is clearly a glimpse into Daft Punk’s own musical philosophy, the song then genre-hops into a flourish of classical orchestration, before finally exploding into a synth-heavy jam session replete with ‘rock star’ guitar soloing.
Everything Moroder’s mission statement implies – from the honky-tonk music hall of ‘Touch’, the piano-based melancholy of ‘Within’, the bombastic string arrangements on ‘Beyond’, to its suggestive UFO-inspired sci-fi conclusion ‘Contact’ – expresses Daft Punk’s musical diversity better than anything they’ve ever done before. Above all, what makes Random Access Memories so essential is how immaculate the production is.
Make no mistake, this is a modern classic equivalent to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon – in fact, if you’re ever testing out a new sound system, stick on this album and crank it up to 11. You won’t regret it.