(Planet Me)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
 
DAFT PUNK random access memories

A collossus astride a wave of hype, “Random Access Memories” is … quite good. But there's nothing on here that's “new” or “unheard”. It's a long 1980's 12” remix. It's heavily indebted to the music of Daft Punk's childhood, to the Harold Faltermeyer/Giorgio Moroder soundtracks of the 80's, to the world of classic, elegant disco and Chic and funk and disco. Any of the songs on here could accompany an action sequence in a nightclub with Eddie Murphy, or a squelchy love scene with someone with enormous and obscenely curly blonde hair. It doesn't help that track 3 is a monologue by Giorgio Moroder, which betrays utterly the source of the record. There's lashings of Kraftwerk's futurism in a sense of a general, minimal aesthetic, of variations and explorations of themes, and of a melodic strength that stretches far beyond a mere sense of coolness.

Aside from the whole 'Robot Heads' stuff, and all the imagery, Random Access Memories is a good record. Certainly, it doesn't seem like eight years since the last album. There's a confidence in ebb and flow, drama, and at the climax of “Giorgio” as strings, drums, and drop-ins give the song a sense of a huge, unstoppable momentum as it powers inexorably on.

And yeah, you know “Get Lucky”, which sounds nothing like Daft Punk, and everything like 1978.

There's nothing false about this : just the sound of two thirty something musicians making music that sounds exactly like the records they loved growing up : the clean and precise mechanics of sequencers and disco, dance, and thumping, aspiration soundtracks. These are the children of “I feel love” and the Scarface soundtrack, Chic, Shaft, “Axel F.” and “Blue Monday”. And it's all here.

Of course, our other reviewer says it sounds like Phil Collins and Richard Clayderman, cloying, overly sincere, anodyne bullshit with no wit or style. If Phil Collins sounded this good, I would love his records, apart from the covers. What “Random Access Memories” is – is a labour of love. It takes 8 years to make a record because you try hard to make sure every note, out of every note that there could be the next is the – perfect – note, but .. only after you have tried all the others. Sure, it's a brazen tribute to the electronica of thirty summers ago, but reminds me of nothing more, and nothing less, than the instrumental b-sides and 12” remixes that I listened to twenty five years ago, when huge vinyl slabs of music remixed by Moroder, Faltermayer, for forgotten soundtrack albums were my staple diet. It's not an album so much as a collection of long-lost classic 80's 12”s you've never heard. Songs are explored, broken down, built up, fractured into a thousand parts and recreated, all of whom exist to take the song to the full, epic potential. Sure, you've heard it all before, but we've heard everything before. There's only so many notes, so many ideas, so many songs. There's too many vocoders, though. And “Touch” is a mess of ideas, where everything the band couldn't get to fit anywhere else is mashed together into a seven minute splodge.

Nobody else sounds quite like this : which is both a great shame, and a great joy : because “Random Access Memories” is Daft Punk's best thing yet.


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