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Nick Stevenson (Publisher) on Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories'
Give Life Back to Music
A Chic-y starter with a big intro, grand mid-section and, quelle surprise, a vocoder! It’s upbeat, BBQ-ready music that affirms the vocal message “Let the music of your life, give life back to music”. The first fade out of many denotes this isn’t a typical DJ album and has a much more relaxed pace to it than ‘Human After All’ and the like.
The Game of Love
70s guitars, fat drums and the tale of robot melancholy. It’s a song about lost love and it tugs at the heart strings, even if it is being sung by an android. Sample lyric: “And it was you, the one that will be breaking my heart, when you decided to walk away. Me, I just wanted you to stay”. I’m not crying, I just have something in my eye. You’re crying if anything!
Giorgio by Moroder
The Godfather of synths commentates on his life becoming a musician. He tells a story of sleeping in cars, discotecs and musical preconceptions as meandering synth lines build in intensity. The melody just keeps coming back with more Moog, more drums, more strings and more guitars. A highlight!
One of the shortest tracks on the album (3mins 48 seconds) is also the most poignant; I could still hear this piano days after first hearing it. A deep vocoder sings about not understanding the world, being lost and not even remembering his own name. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Small but perfectly formed.
A poppy intro with synths, drums and bass and a light vocoder sings hard to decipher lyrics throughout the track. There’s a big electric guitar solo and another fade out but after four strong tracks this is the first that doesn’t resonate. Then again what do I know, I still maintain ‘Digital Love’ is the lull on 'Discovery' and people love that one.
Lose Yourself To Dance
It’s a festival clap-along with Pharrell on vocals. Much like ‘Get Lucky’, he’s backed up by some vocoder robots, this time singing ‘Come on, come on’. It’s a verse, chorus, verse set up with wicky-wah guitars and a catchy message about, you guessed it, losing yourself to dance.
Strap in. ‘Touch’ is Daft Punk’s ‘Bohemiam Rhapsody’ or ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’; an OTT number with five acts that goes from the reaches of space through horn sections, ‘Shaft’-like guitars and sci-fi sound effects. The intro alone is 1min 45seconds. There’s laser sounds, nice strings and even a bloody child choir. A vast track that sounds like a Broadway production condensed.
If you are any kind of human being you already love this one. The album version has a longer intro (32 seconds) and the robot voices don’t even come in ‘til 3mins 27sec. The whole track comes in at over 6mins and is full of the funky, disco optimism you already know from the single – it doesn’t do much more than the radio edit but it doesn’t need to. It’s a perfect record.
‘Beyond’ sounds a lot like the sample used in Nate Dogg and Warren G’s ‘Regulate’ which is no bad thing. The intro sounds like a Disney film is starting – with a slice of Bond dramatics in its strings. The lyrics are about the existential world beyond oceans and mountains – a land beyond love. No mention of an east-side motel.
The first track that has no vocals on it, ‘Motherboard’ reminded me of what Royksopp’s ‘Senior’ was good at – creating a whimsical musical landscape here with big drums, flutes, crisps percussion and even the sound of water in its mid-interlude and outro.
Fragments Of Time
Todd Edwards is best known for his cut-up editing you’ll know from numerous garage classics and Daft Punk’s ‘Face To Face’. But on this track there isn’t any of his remix wizardry, it’s him singing over cowboy-like guitars. His lyrics are about the time he’s spent with Daft Punk creating the track itself. He perhaps gives away too much singing “our only plan is to improvise” which might explain why this track falls flat compared to the rest of the album. Sorry Todd; this might have worked better if you made it into ‘gments-Of-me-Ti-Frag-ts-ts’ in your edit suite.
Doin’ It Right
One of the most basic tracks on 'Random Access Memories' is crying out for some remixing. Its basic parts are a bass drum and a vocoder singing about “If you lose your way tonight, that’s how you know the magic’s right”. This marks Daft Punk as the band that have gone from sampling others work to the act who, with tracks like this, will inspire others to sample them. This will be a bootleg staple.
Another track like ‘Touch’ that is epic and possibly built for a headphone experience or an IMAX short film. It’s intro starts with an astronaut describing something out in space “It’s definitely not a particle near by, its rotating way out in the distance – there’s something out there” Big, dare I say ‘Justicey’ organs parp out and a tone reminiscent of Kavinsky’s work surrounds big drum solos, ‘Aerodynamic’-like electric guitars and a huge build that feels like your face is entering light speed. It’s very exciting and a fitting ending to an exhilarating album you’ll keep going back to.
Read Deputy Digital Editor, Seb Wheeler's full track-by-track review here
Read Clubs Editor, Phil Dudman's full track-by-track review here
Read Electro Editor, Jeremy Abbott's full track-by-track review here