Thanks to a cleverly crafted, drip-fed marketing campaign, anticipation for Daft Punk’s long-awaited Random Access Memories is at fever pitch. But with the album’s official May release date drawing ever closer, as well as the strange but true rural Australian launch at the town of Wee Waa, there is more and more information about the Parisian pair’s latest studio effort being revealed.
Following on from dropping the Pharrell Williams/Nile Rodgers-featuring lead single ‘Get Lucky’, the men beneath the robotic helmets – Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – have given a track-by-track rundown of what to expect from their first new material since 2005’s Human After All (discounting the 2010 Tron: Legacy soundtrack).
Speaking to French blog Obsession, the duo’s rundown of the Random Access Memories tracklisting also includes details of the album’s many star studded collaborators, an A-list that was first revealed in the teaser aired during Coachella 2013, as well as the ‘Collaborators’ series of making-of video interviews with the album’s all-star cast – the latest episode of which features Animal Collective’s Panda Bear (which you can view in the banner).
The descriptions cover the gamut from the detailed (such as lauding the skills of Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas on ‘Instant Crush’) to the cryptic (‘Motherboard’ is simply “A futuristic piece, [it] could be the year 4000”), but there’s plenty of juicy details.
Speaking of album cut ‘Giorgia By Moroder’, Daft Punk expand on how they recorded the legendary disco producer giving a monologue on his career totalling “three hours of interviews in which he recounts his life as a musician,” recorded onto “multiple microphones of various vintages from the ’60s to today.”
Speaking about the track, Daft Punk say: “This piece is a metaphor for musical freedom: we have always tried to break down the barriers between genres, between good and bad taste, the stuff connected and unconnected. Giorgio is a bit of a model [for that. To hear him say, [at] 72 years [of age], “ah, I made electronic music forty years ago,” it’s fascinating.” “We have always tried to break down the barriers between genres, between good and bad taste, the stuff connected and unconnected.” – Daft Punk
The pair are equally enamoured by Julian Casablancas in discussing ‘Instant Crush’ saying of the Strokes singer, “We are both great fans and we learned that he wanted to meet us… basically, we love rock and the concept of the rock band.
“Julian has a punk rock side,” they enthuse, “[and] a super strong emotional impact in [his] melodies. It was important to have this album to feel surrounded by our contemporaries.”
Meanwhile “Touch” is described as “the crux of the album… the starting point of the entire [record],” Bangalter and de Homem-Christo reveal. The track features veteran sound engineer and songwriter Paul Williams (best known as the man who penned the Kermit The Frog hit ‘The Rainbow Connection).
Daft Punk describe that from the meeting with Williams “was born something very cinematic, very narrative. ‘Touch’ clearly defines the psychedelic aspect of [the album],” revealing that its 250 channels of overdubs makes it is the “most complicated, the most crazy” cut on Random Access Memories. The track-by-track descriptions also reveal that the pair’s desire to leave the sampled style behind.
As Thomas Bangalter told Rolling Stone in a rare interview recently, Daft Punk ”wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers…but with people.” The album features two live drummers. Speaking to Obsession, the pair reveal: “we are proud that [there are] real drums on the album and not a box to rhythms.” Confirming that the record features two drummers: “John Robinson Jr., who holds the record for the most recorded drummer in the world, and Omar Hakim, who started with Stevie Wonder at 16 years [old].”
‘Contact’, the album’s closing track which features its “only sample”, that of an “Australian rock record” revealed to be none other than Daryl Braithwaite’s old 70s band, The Sherbs, also happens to feature a recording of the “last mission of NASA’s Apollo 17” of Captain Eugene Cernan, somehow mixed with The Sherbs on the DJ Falcon collab.
The album also features the “angelic voice”, in Daft Punk’s words, of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, on penultimate track ‘Doin’ It Right. “We love what he’s doing solo, as well as the approach of his group,” say the pair. “This piece – the only electronic song on the album – [was] the last recorded. The result is a kind of relaxation.”
Panda Bear, (real name: Noah Benjamin Lennox) has returned the enthusiasm in the latest episode of the Collaborators: ”It’s a huge honour for me, but to talk about it is still a little difficult,” he says in the video interview.
“Instead of sampling an old piece of music it was like recording things in an old way to make something that sounds like it was sampling something old which, in turn, makes it sound new,” Lennox says of the album’s new sound.
You can read Daft Punk’s track-by-track descriptions (loosely interpreted from French, so bear with the poor translation) for Random Access Memories below, after another spin of ‘Get Lucky’ of course:
01. Give Life Back To Music
“One of the ambitions of this disc is to provide both something light and elegant. Here is John Robinson Jr., who plays drums. It was this “Off The Wall” album by Michael Jackson. What’s great in a performance like hers is the infinity of possible shades: something we had not used with the electronic programming… Disks produced by Quincy Jones have always fascinated us by their precision ultimate that has never been achieved by any technology whatsoever. It’s a little basic difference between “Thriller” and “Bad.” In the latter, the securities are of a very high level, but the performances are less qualified. ”
02. The Game of Love
“We sing with vocoders. At a time when human voices are processed to become robotic, we found exciting to make a more humane as possible robotic voice. The idea of artificial intelligence approaches the man… An emotion of something that is not human but tries to be. ”
03. Giorgio By Moroder
“We met several years ago and has always been for us a kind of mythical figure, a little mysterious. His personal journey following the music. The idea came to us a little bit of a documentary based on an interview we conducted. The voice of Giorgio Moroder was recorded with multiple microphones several different times … So we finally recorded about three hours of interviews in which he recounts his life as a musician. This piece is a metaphor for musical freedom: we have always tried to break down the barriers between genres, between good and bad taste, the stuff connected and unconnected. Giorgio is a bit of a model of its kind. He was born in a small provincial town, began studying music in hotel lounges, the opening act for Johnny Hallyday, starts doing stuff progressive rock. To hear him say, in 72 years, “ah, I made electronic music forty years ago,” it’s fascinating. ”
“Gonzales plays the piano on the song. He’s a friend and a great pianist, one of the best musicians of his generation. “Within” is one of the first songs we recorded. It is very minimal: a little rhythm section, bass, piano. Create the most with very little, this is the idea behind this title. ”
05. Instant Crush
“Julian Casablancas of The Strokes sings. We are both great fans and we learned that he wanted to meet us. It was this demo that was lying, he came, he listened and he was thoroughly! It has a kind of gift. We, basically, we love rock and the concept of the rock band, but there were so many strong things that the emergence of a new voice at one point became difficult. Recently, The Strokes and MGMT – with dimensions and sensitivities – succeeded. Julian has a punk rock side, a super strong emotional impact in its melodies. It was important to have this album to feel surrounded by our contemporaries. ”
06. Lose Yourself To Dance
“This piece is the simplest definition of our desire: an album and worked very simple at the same time, with a low axis, drums, guitar – and robots! This is the opposite of something overproduced. Our fantasy was to redo the dance music with drums … The record that way has brought us enormous satisfaction, we are proud that it is a real drums on the album and not a box to rhythms. There are two drummers on the disk: John Robinson Jr., who holds the record for the most recorded drummer in the world, and Omar Hakim, who started with Stevie Wonder in 16 years … ”
“This piece is the crux of the album. It is the starting point of the entire disk that holds the meeting with Paul Williams. A sound engineer we know we presented. Paul Williams [composer of film music, including “Phantom of the Paradise” and actor] visited us in the studio. From this meeting was born something very cinematic, very narrative. “Touch” clearly defines the psychedelic aspect of “Random Access Memories” . This piece has 250 tracks, so this is the most complicated, the most crazy. ”
08. Get Lucky
” Pharrell Williams sings this song: it was natural to invite our album. It is a born performer, complete, which produces a lot of elegance. It has not always had the opportunity to show he could be a great singer, so that we can include it in the pantheon of legendary performers. There is no imaginary line that separate the great artists of the past and present who are all worse than before. We wanted to give the impression of being in a capsule in the studio, isolated from the world. One can believe in 1978, but our idea is to travel this music in the present and in the future, see what happens and see if this enthusiasm is contagious. ”
“Another piece done with Paul Williams who wrote the lyrics. It is a cosmic super song with very poetic lyrics and very pure. We talked a lot with Paul Williams of the direction of this album, and it was worth it to put words to our ideas. ”
“A futuristic piece, which could be the year 4000 …”
11. Fragments of Time
“Our reunion with Todd Edwards [composer house] after” Discovery. ”
12. Doin ‘it Right
“The angelic voice is Panda Bear [group Animal Collective]. We love what he’s doing solo, as well as the approach of his group. This piece – the only electronic song on the album – is the last recorded. The result is a kind of relaxation. Probably the title once the most futuristic and contemporary. ”
“A piece made with DJ Falcon and recorded during the last mission of NASA’s Apollo 17 voice is that of Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man to have gone to the moon. It is a voice that literally just space. And it tells speaks for itself … “