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Daft Punk - Random Access Reflections

The more I listen to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, the more convinced I am that it is a work of pure genius. 

It is also the French duo's (Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) most critically and commercially successful album to date, debuting at number one in 22 countries worldwide, including on the US Billboard 200 chart.

Each track flows into the next like the 1970s-concept-album-in-space that it is designed to be, and the range of music and sounds (given that the vocals are dominated by a vocoder, even with the various guest stars such as Pharrell Williams, Paul Williams and Panda Bear) is fabulous.

It is so great to hear Paul Williams again (a MAJOR songwriter, recording artist and fairly frequent film and TV star - especially on The Muppet Show - in the 1970s) on the standout track, Touch, which shifts so beautifully into Pharrell Williams on the newly-minted dance classic, Get Lucky.

The instrumental Motherboard is incredible, as is the astonishingly moving Within (the first track recorded, featuring exceptionally subtle piano playing by Chilly Gonzales), but then the instrumentation - the band used a custom-built Modcan modular synthesizer and legendary collaborators such as Chic frontman, Nile Rodgers - throughout the album is beautiful.

Fragments of Time, with Todd Edwards, feels like a spacey version of those songs you would hear on the radio in the 1970s while you drove up Pacific Coast Highway past Big Sur and Monterey (I am old enough to remember doing that - although I was startling young at the time:) - kind of like the Christopher Cross song Sailing, which you could both love and hate (at least, I could - I could enjoy Sailing and the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK at the same time).

I love the Close Encounters feel of the final track Contact (produced with DJ Falcon), but still, for me, the absolute standout track (at 9 minutes, which makes it great to work out to) is Giorgio by Moroder - but then I was/am one of the hugest Giorgio Moroder fans (seek out his soundtrack to the film, American Gigolo).

I also love the perfectionism of Daft Punk. This extract from the album's Wikipedia entry is both extraordinary and very nearly insane: 

"In May 2012 Daft Punk's collaboration with Giorgio Moroder was announced—Moroder recorded a monologue about his life in a vocal booth that contained various microphones with origin dates that ranged from the 1960s to the 21st century. The recording engineer later revealed that each microphone was used to represent the different decades contained in Moroder's life monologue and stated that, while most listeners would not be able to distinguish between each microphone, [Daft Punk's Thomas] Bangalter would know the difference."

The album just gets better and better. This is music in 2013.


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