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Album Review by Tom Beninate
Daft Punk -
Random Access Memories
Summary

Produced by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manual de Homen-Christo

Random Access Memories is Daft Punk's (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manual de Homem-Christo's) celebration of late 1970s and early 1980s dance music. For this, they put aside most of their electronic tools and drum machines (but not ProTools) and hired top shelf session players. The resulting record is simply precise, well-engineered and well-oiled. Some of the lyrics and infectious rhythms are repetitive. Although this can be a bit jarring, the music is excellent and the musicians played 100% in tune with each other.

The album won five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. Daft Punk music is not for everyone. But everyone ought to consider buying this CD.


Songs


01 Give Life Back To Music This dance track takes us back to the late 1970s. It is modernized with Daft Punk's sound effects and vocoder- filtered vocals. This tune sets the tone for the rest of the album.

02 The Game Of Love Here we have a smooth feel-good tune with a soothing ability to lower anyone's stress level. The lyrics are limited but that is not unusual for Bangalter and Manual de Homem-Christo.

03 Giorgio By Moroder Giorgio Moroder narrates his autobiography on top of this top shelf track. This instrumental track fits perfectly on this record. However, including the narration (on the track) seems a bit sycophantic on the part of Daft Punk. Anyway, this well-oiled tune includes excellent bass parts by Nathan East and James Genus.

04 Within Chilly Gonzales opens up with a soft piano intro. The subtle hooks really bring you into this one.

05 Instant Crush Julian Casablancas sings lead vocal on this song that sounds like something from the early 1980s. Naturally, Daft Punk brings it up to date with fresh effects and perspectives.

06 Lose Yourself To Dance This track can easily be at home on a 1970s Quincy Jones album. As usual, the DP boys freshen it up for today's times.

07 Touch A spacey full-of-sound-effects intro leads to a quasi-sung verse which segues into another fun and upbeat track. Then more effects, the chorus, and the verse revisited.

08 Get Lucky This is it - the Grammy Winner for Record of the Year and best song on the album. If you are an Earth, Wind, and Fire fan, then you'll like this one.

09 Beyond The orchestra is brought in for this intro. Next is a fine groove track with simple verse and chorus melodies.

10 Motherboard There are not a lot of memorable hooks in this instrumental but it has nice atmosphere. At about three minutes, the whole thing breaks down into a mood reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon. Then the original theme fades up until the end.

11 Fragment OF Time If you like Steely Dan then you'll like this one. Session Drummer Omar Hakim gets as precise as possible on this offbeat and upbeat tune.

12 Doin' It Right This song is a good example of Daft Punk's sense of repetitiveness. Then again you should be used to it by now.

13 Contact Here we begin with a recording of Captain Eugene Cernan from the Apollo 17 mission. Cernan was looking out a window of his space capsule and commented on a flashing object. Daft Punk team up with DJ Falcon to put the finishing touches on this track and on the CD. The driving rock beat and frequency increasing synths seem to propel us into outer space until it all breaks apart at 6:22.


Components


Songwriting Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manual de Homem-Christo wrote all thirteen songs and collaborated with other songwriters on eleven of those. Most of the songs are well-written and some are fair.

Arranging Simply put, these arrangements are very good. Obviously good arrangements shine on better songs and are not as important on weaker ones.

Album Presentation On their previous records, Daft Punk's name (and logo) appeared prominently and typically in neon colors on the front cover. With this record, the name Daft Punk is missing. Instead, half of each TB's (3) and GM's (08) helmets are featured with nothing else beside the name of the album. The CD disc has that old style Columbia Records look. The 16-page booklet looks professional, includes lyrics, and provides ample space for credits including orchestra and choir members.

Artwork Besides the front cover helmet photo, there is a centerfold photo of DP's acrylic keyboard, and Warren Fu's technical (blueprint) illustrations of the TB3 and GM08 helmets. The typeface is easy to read and has good contrast with white lettering on black background.

Originality Being a tribute to the late 1970s and early 1980s, the music sounds very familiar. So that would mean there is not a lot of originality. Yet, there is. The originality comes from the DP boy's vision of that past era and their modernized approach in presenting it.

Performance The musicians on Random Access Memories play in sync and in the groove with precision. From beginning to end, every event was perfectly timed.
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Review date: March 06, 2014
Artist: Daft Punk
Album Title: Random Access Memories
Artist's website:
www.daftpunk.com
©2013 Columbia Records

Rating:
out of 5

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