As cut throat and saturated as the modern music industry can be, every once and awhile an album launch can capture what seems like the ears of the entire listening public–eclipsing all other contenders for a pregnant pause.
For the month of May, that group was Daft Punk.
Riding on the coat tails of a strong initial release ‘Get Lucky’, the album Random Access Memories [Sony] which dropped on May 21st, landed at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold $339,000 copies in its first week–two firsts for the French musicians, whose 4th album is their most successful to date.
To call, RAM merely ‘music‘ does not do it justice, as it truly is a work of art befitting of an entry into 2013 time capsule for future generations to discover. The soundscapes are beyond brilliant, intricately layered, with theatrical and emotional subtexts weaving through each and every song. Sure, it’s electronic dance music with both disco and opera influences, but its also a blend of spoken word, sampling, and live musical performances with Daft Punk limiting their usage of electronic instruments to drum machines, a modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders. I was very thankful to see that very few songs had the robo-synth vocals that are Daft Punk’s calling card, and instead chose very wisely from a thoughtful den of vocalists to carry off some of the album’s most memorable tracks.
The guest stars on this album, are not here to fluff their peacock feathers, they are part of the stew, this great big pot of ART STEW!
Pharrell Williams sings lead vocals (and has production credits) on the first release, a highly danceable 70’s summer sway ‘Get Lucky’ –yet Williams does not appear in the music video, nor do his vocals stand out the way they might normally do on a collab, and it’s all for the good of the album where the music production swells first, the singers just adding to the over-all texture–not visa-versa.
Another standout is the song ‘Touch‘ with vocals and lyrics by 70’s icon Paul Williams. Williams voice is both scratchy and soothing with a distinct lilt that is reminiscent of far off magical lands that instantly transports me back to my childhood. This song is simply lovely, heartfelt and incredibly moving.
While this is how Williams appears today…
This is how I succinctly remember him…as a reoccurring host on The Muppet Show and appearing in the first Muppet Movie!
The last song that I would like to highlight is a production masterpiece that closes off this 13 track
album tapestry of GENIUS!
‘Contact‘ ft. DJ Falcon begins with a sampled voice from NASA’s mission recordings where an Unidentified Object is ‘clocked in on’–and this alone directly appeals to my fascination of UFO and alien Phenomenon, so I was already invested from the get go!
The sample overlays a Casiotone keyboard viscerally invoking such inspiring imagery when suddenly a bombastic set of drums fills the space aged surround sound, and if you are still sitting during these moments, I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN! Just kidding, but seriously if you can manage to sit still during these drum synth’s arpeggios, YOU ARE DEAD INSIDE (*not kidding). Tension builds to an almost indiscernible (or even tolerable) decibel level and then crackles away to static leaving the listener with the succinct feeling of weightlessness and an almost ‘Lost in Space’ feeling of isolation. This song was tailor made for a music video, or at the very least it will be bought out by the likes of Apple or Nike for one of their fall campaigns. It’s THAT Powerful.
This Album Gets ☂☂☂☂ and is absolutely recommended for all of your summer dance parties and patio nights.
The Pop Culture Rainman™