Review: Daft Punk "Random Access Memories"

August 26, 2013
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The Parisian dance duo’s much-anticipated first studio CD since 2005 was five years, three cities, and a million-plus dollars in the making, and has the biggest streaming single in history (“Get Lucky”, which reached No. 1 in 65 countries). What has musicians excited, however, is the pair’s choice to (mostly) eschew machines and call in groove greats and session aces to throw down and throw back. Indeed, the aptly titled opener, “Give Life Back to Music,” boasts a James Genus/ Omar Hakim-spun disco bounce infused by the guitar brilliance of Nile Rogers and Paul Jackson Jr. Minus Nile, Genus stretches deep into “Giorgio by Moroder” (narrated by the disco legend himself). Producer Pharrell Williams fronts “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Get Lucky,” both anchored by J.R. Robinson and Nathan East, who— with Nile onboard—does the late, great Bernard Edwards proud via his in-the-cracks pickups, octaves, and hammers, especially on “Lucky.” Genus and Hakim step back into the driver’s seat for “Beyond” (inspired by Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’,” with Genus recalling that track’s Louis Johnson fills), “Motherboard” (dig James’s exposed muting and sliding, early on), and “Fragments of Time” (nice double- time section, cats!). The rub? Inside word is some of these tunes were cut with both rhythm sections, fed into a computer, and edited to include both teams’ contributions per track. Regardless, this CD can go a long way toward revitalizing the human touch between man and machine in contemporary music.

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