Average User Score: 8.1Jun 2, 2013Daft Punk are undeniably iconic, however an issue of argument remains as to whether this is a substantiated reality or simply a result of sly marketing. Random Access Memories is prolific and wholesome at its foundation however Daft Punk's attempts have fallen horribly short of their intentions, resulting in nothing more than a failed attempt at a musical documentary rather than a respectable album.
The duo have enlisted a all-star force of disco veterans to execute this attempt; a piece of news that swayed emotions of excitement in many. Bass lines and melodies on tracks like 'Give Life Back to Music' by Nile Rogers are invigorating and dance-inducing, reminiscent of the 70's Chic classics we all love. Heart pumping arpeggiators in 'Giorgio by Moroder' by the man himself breathe thick synthetic soul into the track. 'Touch', arranged by Paul Williams stands by far the most bountiful track on the album and while remaining unique, it is a brilliant emulation of game-changers such as Pink Floyd, underpinned by a broadway musical scale soundscape. Unfortunately for RAM, this is about as far as positivity seems to reach.
I’ve always been a fan of ambient music (and of Daft Punk) however, enter tracks like ‘Game of Love’ and ‘Within’ and somehow all that changes. Half-baked yet over-reaching are thoughts that come to mind. What used to be creative and hearty vocoder stylings have transformed into weak noise suggestive of the default pre-sets one hears by pressing a button on a 90's Casio keyboard. Giorgio by Moroder, starts well yet transforms into a tasteless, cringe-worthy scratch party by the finish. That’s right, there’s something like 30 seconds of a feeble attempt at vinyl scratching overlaid onto the song for seemingly no particular reason other than to try and smash as many genres together as possible, leaving nothing but a sour taste in the listener's mouth. Large scale genre blending is a difficult task and success is seldom; look to ‘Imaginary Sonicscape’, an album by the Japanese black metal band ‘Sigh’ for a good example of said success. Look to any works from Flying Lotus as evidence for how a contemporary artist seamlessly melts multitudes of genres while remaining forward thinking.
This album shows the same elements are repeated through and through, yet not in the respected classic Daft Punk manner. The drum line used at the end of ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ is almost identical to that on ‘Contact’, then slowed down and used once again for ‘Beyond’, all to translate their new material to a different type of live show than the last. The shift from digital to organic isn't some genius ‘robot2human’ reference as other critics seem to ignorantly assume. It is however a response to the current era of downloads, where live shows are the money-makers. Justice did the same, as did Digitalism; but change should never occur at the expense of quality. Tracks like ‘Doin’ it Right’ and ‘Instant Crush’ are filler tracks at their core, and that's being kind. This is a real shame for the legitimate feature artists which each have excellent music to offer in their own right.
This piece had potential, but never as an album. The result is nothing more than a tasteless homage to the eras of synthetic disco, thrown together with barely associable genres in an attempt for variation and modification. From day one, this ‘album’ should have been a documentary. As such, it would have been congruent with their intentions to source disco veterans, solidify their legacy in the electronic music realms as well as act to further reach new market segments in a productive and lasting manner, rather than through mere-exposure. If the millions that were spent on flood-marketing were instead used to hire a brilliant cinematographer and set up worthy, vivid and revitalising interviews with said veterans (as opposed to the half-arsed attempts of the ‘collaborators episodes’), a truly historic mark could have been made. Instead, this album will be forgotten. The hype will die, the mere-exposure effect will run its course and the clone masses will either jump on the next bandwagon or go back to listening to the brilliant works Daft Punk have released in the past. In a few years, no one will care about a launch party in the rural Australian town of Wee Waa, no one will care about their high scale ‘unboxing’ videos released a week previous to launch, about the collaborator episodes, the late show clips, the ‘accidental’ leaks of get lucky or the garish videos played during festivals.
If another album is in sight, I hope they go back to making the gold they once did. Perhaps the reality I’m finding hard to accept is that their creativity has run its course, a circumstance usually evidenced by enlisting a mass load of collaborators on a new album. Only time will tell. For now, throw ‘touch’ on repeat for a decent journey, or simply stick with Discovery.… Expand