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- Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
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I sometimes think we at Norman Records live in a parallel musical universe to the mainstream movers and shakers. So many albums praised to the hilt elsewhere get very short shrift among our ears. And I know you won’t believe me when we say we are NOT music snobs...well, not much.
It’s happening time and time again, Vampire Weekend last week, The National this. I remember my pre-record store working days before I was lucky enough to hear records before they came out; pre-internet, pre-Radio 6, when you had to take the word of the scribes, and the amount of records I sold months after buying, desperately disappointed that the music did not live up to the hype. This is why, despite one of our main aims of bringing you the underground music that can’t afford to pay for generating hype, we must continue to give you honest appraisals of the ‘big’ releases because...basically...no-one else will.
I have so little interest in Daft Punk that they barely pass by my musical radar. Over the past month or so, I keep noting excited postings on Facebook about their new album, possibly sponsored by the Sony corporation. It’s difficult to see how Daft Punk have made it to the level they are at, their last couple of albums weren’t particularly critically praised but now after the regulation five year gap they are being talked of as legends. Opener ‘Give Life Back to Music’ is a plasticy Chic impersonation with horrid vocoder slathered over. The same vocoder irritates ‘The Game of Love’ which otherwise is a sleek, disco weeper with some gorgeous descending keys. It’s safe to say that if, like me, you hate vocoder, you are going to struggle.
‘Giorgio by Moroder’ samples the great man,yet the irony is that when Moroder originally came along he made music that sounded like nothing else. It was genuinely futuristic, sexy and slightly scary, but the track that follows is a sleek interpretation of ‘Magic Fly’ by Space. The raft of collaborators is impressive - Julian Casablancas, Pharrell Williams, Panda Bear, Nile Rodgers - the most obvious influence is that of the latter. The sleek, Chic grooves are everywhere and thumping single ‘Get Lucky’ is genuinely brilliantly catchy, you’ll have heard it...well...everywhere already. Yet it magnifies the thought rolling around my head. There isn’t that much difference between Daft Punk and Jamiroquai. Both authentically steal music from the late part of the ‘70s, often to the point of near plagiarism. Yet one is the future of music and the other a twat in a hat. It’s a funny old (hype driven) world.
3/10 Ross Holloway Customer review, 15th January 2015
Despite the stella supporting cast and the intriguing conceptual thinking that went into it's making this album is ultimately a bit rubbish.
The track Get Lucky is a case in point. Chic songs were sexy, smart, grown-up and forward looking. Get Lucky by contrast is a dumb teenage boy serving up a hand-shandy that is almost saved by a groove that Nile Rodgers has executed much better many times himself. I don't begrudge Nile Rodgers the money he'll have made off this record, the man is a legend, but Get Lucky is a mere footnote in his catalogue.
And Get Lucky is one of the better tracks on the LP! Elsewhere there is some truly excruciating lounge music that is a homage to some truly excruciating lounge music. Why?
The sounds of coked-up 70s California rock are nicely evoked Fragments in Time, though to what end? It's not as good as Fleetwood Mac, and sent back in a time machine to the 70s would at best be a minor tune of the era. Likewise the Julian Casablancas collaboration Instant Crush is OK, though would have better without the vocoder - get over the vocoder already, Frampton Comes Alive is not a good record!
Motherboard has some amazing drumming by Omar Hakin and does somehow evoke the optimistic futurism of the space age as viewed in the the 1960s and the 1970s, and the Giorgio by Moroder track I enjoy for the interesting narration by Moroder and competent and quite entertaining pastiche of Moroder's music. If I had a 12" single of these two tracks I'd rate it 7/10. But these are the only 2 actually good tracks on the LP for me.
Ultimately the whole exercise comes across as pointless. It's all very post-modern in that it seems to be exclusively made up post culture references to the point of having absolutely no personality of its own - it's all map and no territory, like a soundtrack to a video game in which mindless violence is served up as ironically detached cool. It has no soul, no love, no anger, just a polished sheen of utter vacuousness.
Their first LP 'Homework' I'd still rate as 9 or 10 out of 10. It's a incredible hybrid of stripped down house and techno and stripped down punk and rock. It had amazing energy and felt on release very anchored in the moment, very relevant, which made it exciting.
This LP just sums up everything that is so utterly terribly terribly shite about 'EDM'. It's backwards looking, it's conservative, it's shallow, it's puritanical (like DeadMaus, Daft Punk have tried to distance what they're doing from 'drugs' music, which is just a step away from denying that black people or gay people have anything to do with 'dance music'), it's no real 'funk' or groove, and it's a bit boring.
1/10 Gareme Customer review, 24th July 2013
I read a very interesting article about the making of this album in Sound On Sound a few weeks ago and was actually on the verge of buying a vinyl copy because I was intrigued by it. I wanted to hear the quality of the recording first hand through my hi-fi speakers.
I'm a bit pushed financially so I thought I'd just check first that I would be able to face it so I'm afraid I had a sneak listen on Spotify.
And I had a lucky escape - I hate it.
I got through the first track OK fair enough, but then the insipid lifeless second track and then the third one about Giorgio Moroder. This just made me start to hope that the Spotify advert would cut in instead of the next track.
Moroder would never had made anything like this - he wanted to make something of the future with synths, not this horrible pastiche of a documentary.
I limped into the fourth track but by now I had lost the will.
And what is so offensive is that all of this cost so much money.
Why? Why did they not just get some 70's tribute band to record directly onto a 4 track cassette portastudio and donate all of the money they would have spent on something really useful like a hospice or Alzheimers research?
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