On their fourth opus – their first since 2005’s Human After All – basically, the iconic French house synth robo impregnators made 2001: A Space Odyssey for disco children of the early 80s. There’s no evil computer named HAL, but familiar dancefloor vocoder babble is all over the magical place, that with the help of a super space crew of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, and everyone from MJ stand-in Pharrell Williams to Animal Collective‘s Noah Lennox, randomly try to access monolith-cryptic memories, complete with the sonic equivalent of Kubrick’s light-tunnel freakout scene laced with recordings from the last US trip to the moon, Apollo 17.
Ditching both the synthetics of their EDM inclinations for an analogue, warm sound and their distilled catch-phrases of “Around the World” yore, along the ride they let sentiments float and grow, in which they fall in love with music again and again, meditate on the space between notes, question their confidence and of course stay in orbit long enough to see both the sun and moon in less than and hour and a half to “get lucky.” So go the Punksters’ best RIFFs for this epic ride called Random Access Memories.
Dance-pop’s iconic knob-twiddlers ditch samples, hire a bevy of live talent on Columbia’s dime to “Give Life Back to Music.” Could have gone one of two ways. Thank the underground 80s disco Gods of LA yore that the two helmet-wearing French are the best nerds for the job. Queue the vocoder; [LISTEN].
Odd placement for a comedown track, following a dance-floor sentiment like “Give Life Back to Music.” But fitting blues realism, perhaps, as life can’t be one forever hot-step. Who knows, maybe the love game is an allegory for the music business. Still, though, why the heartache so early? [LISTEN]
Another oddly placed A-side gem pays homage to invaluable Daft Punk inspiration, Giorgio Moroder, as the French knob-twiddling nerds dress an interview with the modulator pioneer in a jazz-funk number, scratch sessions and Human League synthesizer work, turning progression into gospel: [LISTEN]
Side-A, if you’re listening to Random Access Memories in succession, starts to make more sense as a package downer here, with Daft Punk’s pill of choice, the vocoder, narrating a sad robot, key-twinkled ballad about looking within one’s strung-out robot soul to find emptiness. The ironing:
The last in a series of A-side downers, king Stroke Julian gets a feathery Auto-Tune assist to lounge-funk preach familiar apathetic gospel way too early for a mid-life crisis, but just right for a ‘random access memory’ and the feeling that most friends are never what they appear to be: [LISTEN]
Easily the diamond prism moment of Daft Punk comeback verite, rife with disco bell sparkles, handclaps and robo-mod talk boxin’ – “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon” and don’t dare try and fight Pharrell‘s best MJ howls, nor Nile Rodgers’ laser funk sweeps, “lose yourself,” brother, “to dance:” [LISTEN]
There’s an obvious agenda on this cheeky ‘random’ comeback dancefloor slap, teasing hips when Daft Punk feels like it, filling lots of space with comedown sentiments. Studded with 70s pop heavyweight Paul Williams, vocoder babble and sweeping love rhetoric, consider this its satin bridge: [LISTEN]
Daft Punk back their weight in LP4 hype with a Pharrell-studded dance-floor burner, letting his inner soul-glow simmer and hip-pop for a good 2:00 with Nile Rodgers’ chest-tight funkisms, before torching in the robot crunch choir on a forever mission to stay up all night and get lucky: [LISTEN]
EDM shackles broken, DP reprise 70s pop maestro Paul Williams‘ orchestral thumb to space-funk cruise toward the dream beyond the dream, reinvigorating their tuneage hearts, as if for some reason one was still shocked to learn the French dancefloor robots have immensely progressive souls: [LISTEN]
“Face to Face” robo-funk stud, Todd Edwards, returns to the party on this reflective, good ol’ days number when DP were playing at everyone’s house, not just James Murphy‘s, to put the RAM ethos into dad-rock, smooth cruiser context, where random memories forever become timeless melodies: [LISTEN]
Aside from Pharrell‘s Mars-walk on “Lose Yourself to Dance,” the ‘magic’ spoken of in this slow-roller is proof why DP are as coddled as they are by every spectrum of the music community – Noah Lennox as the arbiter of sonic umami, with a robo-vocodor cohort hitting the secret chill key: [LISTEN]
Led with audio of the last moon-bound Apollo 17 crew attempting to make sense of mysterious flashes of light, DP go out on RAM with a 2001: A Space Odyssey light-tunnel bang, capturing both their full-band organic clatterings for the future and their forever Discovery chase of yore: [LISTEN]