8 years after Human After All the robotic duo return to earth to release quite possibly the most important LP of the year, should you give in to its charms?
It is a testament to the sound and style that Daft Punk has cultivated that, even though they’ve done away with nearly all forms of sampling, this LP is unmistakably a work of their own. They revolutionised house in the early 90’s, gave us a space-dance animated epic in 2001, produced a rather repetitive piece of work that blew us away when performed live, a Hollywood film score, and finally this. It seems completely out of place for Daft Punk to collaborate with so many various artists from different fields given their rather introverted and rapid style of production over the years, it is perhaps due to the lengthy production and collaboration process of RAM that this album is their most fluid and expansive work yet.
Listeners expecting another album full of dance ready hits are advised to prepare themselves for a rather intriguing listen. After my umpteenth session with this work I’ve concluded that this LP follows more of a progressive rock structure than any EDM form I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The album opens with a sense of purpose, seething with an undercurrent of melancholy. It erupts when it feels it has the space and time to do so, it retracts, flows and finishes with a flourish of glimmering bombast. Not to say it doesn’t have its moments that will have you jubilantly frolicking. ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’, and ‘Doin’ It Right’ are quite possibly the most beautifully constructed pieces of recorded ecstasy I’ve listened to this year. This is partly due to the magic of Daft Punk, the various prophetic studios they recorded in, and the fantastic contributions from Pharell, Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, and the ever-funky Nile Rodgers. Anything Nile had a chance to touch on this LP glimmered with the hey-day of dance-masters Chic.
My favourite pieces off this LP however had nearly nothing to do with classical dance structure and they are ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ and ‘Touch’. The former is a 9 minute long opus that firstly sees Giorgio narrating his fascinatingly intonated upstart in Germany before erupting into a beautiful swirl of analogue synthesizer wizardry. The latter being a prog-rock opus directed by none other than Mr. Paul Williams. Both have several themes and demand the listener to engage with each and every one of them. These two pieces probably illustrate most what I enjoyed about this album, the atmosphere it generated. Everything flows and sounds brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The stereo imaging is magnificent and crisp, everything is panned just right, the rhythm section, despite being live instrumentation instead of samples this time, proves to be more forceful and present than ever. Don’t even get me started on the beautiful array of analogue synthesis that this LP portrays. The work exudes an absolutely overwhelming sense of confidence. You realize rather rapidly that everyone involved understood every instrument being implemented very thoroughly. Nothing being heard is happening as a happy accident.
This album deserves your attention, take away from it what you will, but it deserves your attention.
Random Access Memories was released on Daft Life on 17th May 2013.