Alright guys, it's finally here. The French duo better known as Daft Punk, comprised of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Hommen-Christo, have finally released their heavily awaited fifth studio album. But before we get into anything too dicey, let me begin by saying that this project Random Access Memories isn't for everyone, but an amazing, and organic project regardless that was held up to absurd and varied standards. I mean for starters, RAM was the single handedly most buzz-worthy project of 2012 into early 2013 for several reasons:
1. Daft Punk fans are like old-school Justin Bieber fans: They're like a cult.
2. "EDM" is popular in America nowadays, therefore listeners automatically correlate 'electronic dance music' with Daft Punk
3. It's the first time we've heard from the guys in FOUR years.
From the get go, I'm a classic Daft Punk fan coming from the days of first hearing Homework, to watching Interstella 5555 on MTV as a kid. And as a 'veteran' fan (...which some might see as elitist), I was a bit apprehensive about the new album. Not because I didn't think Daft Punk would deliver some stellar tunes, but because in this tech driven, social media age -- every single listener's critique is fully blasted and spewed all across the internet (just like this!) and that's not something I thought I could handle. Every single post I saw for weeks on social media detailed how the album would change EDM for good, and immediately I was scratching my head. This isn't your typical bubble-gum, pop Avicii, Afrojack, Tiesto, Armin, Above & Beyond (I could go on for days) project -- it's something much bigger than that. Daft Punk recruited and enlisted so many genuine musicians from the 70's and 80's to craft their new sound. And for those anxiously waiting with your Beats headphones on for "the drop" -- it ain't coming! Bangalter made direct note that "it’s not that we can’t make crazy futuristic sounding stuff, but we wanted to play with the past". These guys could run circles around the majority of artists that are in the game today. In fact, MOST artists (especially French ones), attribute their early influences to Daft Punk's blend of genres and variation in production. "We wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with people". So everyone looking for that contemporary pop EDM style, LOOK ELSEWHERE! Daft Punk have gone in the COMPLETELY different direction and I gotta say -- I fuckin' love it!
With this recent obsession over samples and unoriginal sounds, Random Access Memories CAN be considered a savior for those waiting out this whole 'neon-gang' phase. But, trying my hardest, I put all preconceived notions away, said fuck it, and kicked off my listening experience with the first track 'Give Life Back to the Music' which is eerily relatable to my sentiments on the current grandstanding 'dance music' scene in America. With a vivacious kick, the track essentially became a guide to the entire album and explained what they were truly going for. Collaborating with some of the best musicians of all time such as Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Pharrell, and Panda Bear, the album has entirely authentic feel. All live instruments and NO samples, besides the intro to the last song 'Contact.'
It's hard to say what fans will appreciate an album of this caliber, but if you can appreciate classic artists that take time, energy, and effort into crafting a totally unique listening experience -- then you should probably pick up Random Access Memories. Daft Punk are coming off a massive career of pretty much doing it all in the industry: huge, theatrical shows, producing original movie scores, and even appearing in commercials. They don't need the whole flashy, ostentatious package that you might see at a Swedish House Mafia show (RIP). Sticking strictly to live instruments, drum machines, and vocoders, Daft Punk crafted a better project than I've heard from artists in many genre's.
But, let's be real here: I know there were a shit ton of you all waiting for a new 'One More Time' type track or maybe even a 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' type sample -- and unfortunately for you guys, Thomas and Guy-Manuel are leaving that in their decadent past. Don't start this off expecting to hear wobbles, chainsaws, or even 'dubby' sounds, but rather a 13 track project of strictly groovy music. The reason most of us fell in love with their music in the first place is because it made us dance, and in my opinion -- they keep that theme well and alive with this album.
As to why the EDM gang will probably not enjoy this project? Current dance music relies heavily on 'drops', sampled sounds, and overtly flashy promotional schemes to get your attention, money, and some of your soul too. But with Daft Punk, they went for a more experimental listing experience (no, not like Avicii's UMF nonsense) to band together both old and new fans. The lack of Dutch house rhythms, trance vibes, or even the wobbles of dubstep will make this album completely unappealing to most modern EDM fans. But those without the silly raveshade blinders on, the album is actually a musical masterpiece that essentially represents everything that EDM is not.
Pharrell appearing on two tracks, was a major contributor to the album along with prominent artists like Julian Casablancas, Todd Edwards, DJ Falcon, and Chilly Gonzales. If you're a fan of music, and can come to grips with the fact that the French duo had no intentions of releasing a mainstream, pop album for you to fist pump in your neon tank-top in a sweaty overpriced basement nightclub, then you will really appreciate the album.
Some notable tracks from the album: "Give Life Back to Music," "The Game of Love," "Motherboard," the spacy "Contact," and my favorite, "Doin' It Right."