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Phil Dudman (Clubs & Live Music Editor) on Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories'
Give Life Back to Music
Crisp hi-hats open the album with a disco fest with the vocals "give life back to music" layered over what sounds like Nile Rodgers’ trademark strumming. Plentiful crescendo builds follow, but some might find this tingling their nose with odour de fromage.
The Game of Love
With its Fleetwood 80s influence wrapped with melancholy vocoder lyrics, this track conjures up an LA beach road in orange dusk, silhouetted palms and a driver leaving town. Perhaps like a game, this love. A game he lost.
Giorgio By Moroder
Moroder narrates his life through music, his discovery of the discothèque and his assertion to use the synthesiser – the future of music – over a disco funk backing. Cue arpeggiated synth riffs that remind me of Cerrone’s ‘Supernature’… To the point where I can’t stop singing the lyrics over this song in my head. Which is no bad thing. A Moroder jazz-key bridge aligns itself with super crisp drums, before a big orchestral build up drops with a very breaky drum riff – a signature of some other tracks on this album. The volume increases towards the finale of this long player with an apparent laser gun fight, and FX galore – as they take a hit at every button on their Casio.
Opening with promising piano chords, for me this tune goes all a bit ketamine with a whiny vocoder voice. It's a soft rock vocoder ballad. Perhaps I need another listen. Or some gear.
Beats kick in from the start here, rolling nicely, and while it’s hard to understand the lyrics, it’s all part of the super retro feel. A classic 80s guitar solo rocks in to underline the point but the cascading drop provides the coolest bit here. The remixes should be banging. Although it does make me realise why I liked Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack so much – because unlike this generational obsession with the 80s, it was sonically so future-facing.
Lose Yourself to Dance
Cruising in at a slow-groovin’ 100bpm, it sounds like Nile’s at it again on the riff machine, as the lyrics entice you to ‘lose yourself to dance’. This gets progressively more exciting as DP’s classic arpeggiation builds the words ‘come on, come on, come on’, in layers, making this one the most enticing, for an albeit slow-tempo dancefloor so far.
Now this I like. Windswept synth-flutes whistle over a sci-fi soundscape like something out of ‘Dune’. It’s all very psychedelic, building to a spaceship style lift off, only to pause in silence before a male vocal speaks a ‘half-forgotten song, where do I belong’. Then the afterburners kick in for the first stage of separation, a hi-hat and funk lick teasing us along, always building… Orchestral… Building… BUILDING… (yes this is it, this one’s going to be a ripper!)… BUILDING AAAAND… *Jazz Hands!!!*. It’s Daft Punk meets Bugsy Malone. Right. Wasn’t expecting that. Ok. And an ending like an 80s kids movie. Cool… I think.
Hello summer. Props to Nile. Props to Daft Punk. This is everything I ever wanted from this album and it makes me smile uncontrollably. Summertime incarnate. And a reason to buy this album (and let everything else have some growing time) all on its own.
With an epic orchestral intro layered with kettle drums, this drops into super smooth funk and a really good use of vocoder, yes, this one really works. Lovely touch with the country style guitar wailing wistfully in the background before the chords drop and ‘Beyond’ becomes the best version of Michael McDonald’s – ‘I Keep Forgettin’ since Warren G and Nate laid some busters down.
All scatter-funk and percussion laced with soft keys, a huge 70s string cascade then drops this track into a world of intricate drumming and acoustic guitar, built on a muted 4/4 bassline that rolls beautifully underneath. This is a departure. More Tron-esque, but with the drummer from Paul Simon’s ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ letting loose. Then comes a sudden spookiness, as wet splats fly everywhere and a thunderstorm opens up. It’s raining in Bladerunner town! Four minutes in and the robot arpeggiations are back turning this all super-sci-fi before a whopping Bonobo break returns. Interestingly the drummer feels like the soloist here, but this is a track I can’t wait to hear again. Especially in the rain.
Fragments of Time
More Phoenix/Fleetwood here, with a ‘not so sure’ Todd Edwards (I think) vocal which again builds and teases only for ‘vocoder guy’ – who has until this point been held back by security – to break onto the stage and fires up three minutes in. Blah.
Doin’ It Right
“If you’re doing it right, everybody will be dancing” says the voice as a Da Funk beat once again opens into a flurry of live funky drummer. The vocal soars but this one is crying out for a remix for the dancefloor.
This begins with some astronaut space chat that again builds incessantly, only half satisfying with more heavy breaks. Then it turns into a frenzied Daft mosh pit of rock, harking back to the distorted wonder of the robot’s Franz Ferdinand remix, which this time winds up but again never lets the bomb drop.