Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the duo behind Daft Punk, created a beast with more force and fervor than twenty-thousand screaming fans at a Miley Cyrus concert: Random Access Memories.
The title of the album speaks for itself. This album represents a conglomerate of, at times, incoherent though impeccably fluid arrangements of audio that made me want to move. Yes, move.
Now, before you latch onto the boldly implied notion that I enjoy dancing in any way or fashion I’d like to preface the rest of this review by saying that I do not particularly prefer to partake in such activities. Now, mind you, it is not out of disdain for the practice of dancing itself but simply because I’d much rather employ the precious energies I have at my disposal to other faculties – writing reviews for one.
The catalogue of songs which Daft Punk pulled together for this album don’t begin with a bang, or a whimper, for that matter, but delegate the cogent energies which the group invested in this opus with the utmost respect for moderation. No rhythm is overemployed or underused; a logical, infallible devotion to precise repetition; never seeming to miss a step or a beat.
Daft Punk employs melodious harmonies in an effort to encourage you to achieve a state of catharsis.
The ebb and flow provided by the shifts from powerful, saturated, distorted chords to clean, continuous funk act as insatiable intricacies when one considers the broad implications which this music brings to the table. Love. Peace. Hope. Doubt. And in the song titled “Giorgio by Moroder”, featuring the disco artist of the same name: Dreams.
I’d compare the first three songs of this album to downing a swig of the smoothest liquor you’ve ever had the pleasure of having slither down your throat. The slight burn caused by the alcohol (overpowered riffs) is quickly soothed by the cool, refreshing sound of the lock being slowly loosened on your cage of inhibitions.
Smooth, repetitive riffs deliver the euphoric platform needed for the composition of your thoughts and emotions. Random Access Memories not only injects the thoughtful musical experiments which the duo has crafted over the years into that space between your ears for your own personal enjoyment but it also allows you, as the listener to literally strike a chord with your inner psyche, thus dissipating any dissonance impeding you from ever doing so before.
The album also includes contributions from a handful of musicians including Pharrell Williams who provides his voice to the song “Get Lucky”. In addition, Julian Casablancas, Panda Bear and even Paul Williams leave their unabashed mark on the landscape of your mind
As the song “Within” begins with a soft piano andante, Daft Punk encourages you to slowly unwind as they take you away. The vocoder vocals make it clear that you are travelling through someone’s ideas in a tangible fashion. The album makes it easy to close your eyes and be whisked away.
But don’t get too comfortable.
A shift occurs in the song “Lose Yourself to Dance”. It is in this piece of audio that the ethereal, otherworldly visions become physical. The Pavlovian cues reach their zenith as you feel yourself literally brought to the emotional intensity which you have been prepared to experience.
This physical intensity introduced at this point in time reaches its climax as Daft Punk hammers the final nail in, sealing the deal.
“Get Lucky” represents much more than a blatant testament to an evening encounter with a lover. It wraps the emotional and physical heights into a neat package as the album begins bringing the story to a close. This song is obviously an instant pop hit for its straight-forward focus and funky, catchy delivery.
The songs which follow include one of my favorites this album has to offer: “Beyond”. It could go without the intro but the incredibly captivating rhythm which follows is to die for.
Omar Hakim, the bassist, hammers down a simple, melodic beat. Nile Rodgers, the guitarist, palm mutes a contingent nexus of clean, untainted notes. Bangalter, on synth, accents each of these aforementioned elements while still enabling the drummer to shine through the thick, Amazonian foliage of harmonies with the sun-infused, sharp, high-treble intonations of the high-hat. One of my favorite elements of Daft Punk’s new album is their commitment to letting every element of their music shine through.
In my opinion, “Fragments of Time” represents the last salvo in Random Access Memories’ arsenal. It’s definitely a chorus that I will be humming to myself for weeks to come. Along the same lines as the previous tracks in the album, “Fragments of Time” is incredibly memorable while still delivering the predictable niceties found in the other songs.
All in all, it’s definitely an album which melds together so well. You may not even notice that the songs change except for the voiceover found in track 3 which, for all intents and purposes, should’ve been either at the beginning or the end because it detracts from the overall fluidity which the album otherwise hits flawlessly.
Nonetheless, Random Access Memories is a welcome addition to any music library.