RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES
I have always wanted to do a review of highly a anticipated record. I am now old enough that I remember when the people who reviewed music actually had some influence and words like "Album" "Record" or "CD" did not sound so antiquated to my own ears.
So tonight when I got the text from my long time brother in tunes "Daft Punk's Ram leaked tonight, lets take a ride" I got a feeling I have not had in a long time. The feeling of anticipation from hearing new music from a great artist.
It was midway through the third track that I wished I could review this music that was blaring out of my car stereo and two high hats later I realized that I have a blog and can write whatever I want. The fact that nobody will read it does not mean it cannot be just as insightful as the review some hipster with a wax mustachio over at Pitchfork is scribbling out with ink and quill; (Really, HUGE generalization. I have no idea what the reviewer at Pitchfork looks like. But I am pretty sure they do use ink and quill to write all reviews which are then transcribed on a steampunk keyboard into a handcrafted turn of the century font.)
I am sure some of you are dubious as to my musical credibility and rightfully so but I assure you that I have far more taste than talent. I know I am in my late thirties, married with children and not exactly rocking the club scene, but I do suffer from insomnia and I have spent a decades worth of wee hours scouring the internet for something great to listen to, and with that much information to cover you learn to get pretty picky. Plus I have a picture of me in a cool Daft Punk t shirt at a appropriately unrelated Smashing Pumpkins show with my sister last week.
Some of you are also probably thinking that I sound like a huge Daft Punk fan and therefore I am going to gush over just about anything the robot headed Frenchmen put out but I promise you, if it sucks I will tell you. I am going to go ahead and save you the suspense. It does not suck.
I was taking an easy potshot at hipster mentality earlier but I find myself caught in the classic hipster quandary. I was a huge fan of Daft Punk and Electronic music before most people in America and especially in the south eastern United States. So I am a little pissy when some kid who just realized last week that Linkin Park is not awesome wants to debate me on what sub genre Daft Punk should be classified under. Nobody likes to hear I told you so or really gives a crap that you knew something before they did so you just keep your mouth shut and be happy that more people are listening to better music. The massive American surge toward EDM over the last three years, along with absolutely zero, technical, talent or cost barrier to get someone's music to the masses has made for a lot of weak sauce lately.
Enter Daft Punk and Random Access Memories.
(FOR THOSE NOT INTERESTED IN MY BLAH BLAH, THE REVIEW ACTUALLY STARTS HERE)
First and foremost please do not listen to this album with shitty speakers at low volume or on horrible headphones with a bad bootleg copy of the MP3 files. Half the beauty of anything from Daft Punk is the production and if you do not listen to it at a pretty high volume with half way decent equipment then you are not hearing the same music that I am talking about.
Random Access Memories. It's good. No, it is more than just good, I just cant say how much more just yet. For those of us who had to wait on a leaked copy and have had less than twenty four hours to digest a fairly complex album it is hard to say what level of good we are talking about. There is a cohesion about the record that will take time to sort out and for me that is always the real fun, figuring out what message a great artist is trying to send.
The first message from The Robots is pretty clear. "Nice job learning to press the play button kids. Now put away your laptop and pick up an instrument." The entire album was recorded using analog and you can feel it. The layers rest on each other differently and there is something more intimate about the sound that digital has yet to provide.
Another theme that comes through is that disco can convey more emotions than just the urge to shake your ass. There are a lot of tender and melancholy songs on Random Access Memories. "The game of love,""Within" and "Instant Crush" are three songs that explore some kind of pensive robot slow jam.
The other main message on the album would have to be, Don't forget to shake your ass.
"Lose yourself to dance" and "Get Lucky" are the radio ready hits. "Lose yourself to dance" is especially infectious and it will have dance floors stomping for a long time. The Robots could have easily made eleven songs just like these two and made most people ecstatic but it is obvious they were trying for more and I think they achieved it.
If I wanted to sound like a seasoned and unbiased reviewer I might say that this record plays like another sequel soundtrack. This one for "WALL-E 2." Self aware robots can't dance all the time. I would love to see that movie actually so for me its not a detraction.
There are a couple of songs on the record where it takes a minute for the song to come alive. Admittedly if it was another artist I might not give them that long. Lebron James gets four steps on a break away and Daft Punk gets more than thirty seconds to hook me on a song and they usually succeed.
My favorite segment of the album is around the five minute mark in "Giorgio." The song starts out as a interview with Giorgia and slowly progresses into a fantastic jam. At the end of the song Thomas Bangalter on base and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo on drums play like they have something to prove. A furious crescendo of drums, base, scratching and synthesizers clash and crash into something powerful and leaves you with your hair blown back.
Daft Punk hit the mark they were looking for with Random Access Memory, but I am afraid a majority of the people are looking at the targets behind them, the ones they have already shot down. This record is fun and beautiful but it is also a gauntlet thrown down as a challenge and a bread crumb. Its time to start pushing limits again in electronic music without just pushing buttons.