Daft Punk pays tribute to disco era on Random Access Memories
Random Access Memories is the fourth studio album by veteran French electronic musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, known collectively as Daft Punk. The new album is the robotic, helmeted duo’s first for Columbia Records, and was recorded in California at Henson Recording Studios, Conway Recording Studios, and Capitol Studios. Additional work was done at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and Gang Recording Studio in Paris, France. Daft Punk sought out session musicians from the 1970s and 80s as a way to pay tribute to the era they love, particularly the sound of Los Angeles recordings of the period.
Daft Punk started work on Random Access Memories in 2010 as the pair also devoted time to recording the Tron: Legacy movie score. Featured collaborators on Random Access Memories include Panda Bear, Julian Casablancas, Todd Edwards, DJ Falcon, Chilly Gonzales, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, and Pharrell Williams. The album was recorded using live instrumentation and limited the use of electronics to drum machines, a modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders—the latter being a voice processing technology Daft Punk has used since their 1997 Homework debut album.
Billboard reported last week that ‘Random’ is “heading for a big sales week and the act's first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.” First week album sales are expected to approach between 250,000 and 300,000 copies—more than twice the total sales of Human After All—Daft Punk’s last studio album from 2005 that Nielsen SoundScan reports sold only 125,000 units to date. Billboard also projects Random Access Memories should “easily earn the best sales week for a dance/electronic album in more than a year,” noting that the last dance set to move more than 250,000 in a week was Madonna's MDNA.
Random Access Memories is led by the single ‘Get Lucky’, one of two tracks featuring Pharrell Williams. The song is Daft Punk's biggest hit ever after peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and getting radio airplay on the Mediabase Rhythmic, Alternative, Top 40, and Hot AC charts at No. 20, No. 22, No. 25, and No. 45, respectively. The song also has surpassed 350,000 in digital sales. Bangalter told NPR News that ‘Get Lucky’ is a “summary of this record, this album.”
Bangalter added the song provided Daft Punk the opportunity to get out of their home studio and work with early disco influences such as Nile Rodgers, who created Chic and topped the charts in the late 70s with hits such as ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Good Times.’ Another featured disco legend is Giorgio Moroder, who scored electronic hits for Donna Summer and won Academy Awards for composing music for films including Top Gun, Flashdance, and Midnight Express. The 73-year-old producer appears on the track ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ describing how he first got into using synthesizers.
When asked about a tour in support of Random Access Memories, Bangalter told NME, “Not any time soon,” saying he prefers fans focus on the album instead of live shows. ‘We want to focus attention on the record itself, but also the nature of this record makes it not really possible to tour it,” he said.
Watch Pharrell Williams in a live performance of ‘Get Lucky’ from the new Daft Punk album Random Access Memories.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Daft Punk is an electronic music duo consisting of French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. The duo met in 1987 at Paris’ prestigious Lycée Carnot. Bangalter’s father produced French disco hits in the 70s and the pair grew up with an eclectic taste in music that extended from Jimi Hendrix and Velvet Underground to Led Zeppelin, KISS, and David Bowie.
* In 1992, the pair formed a traditional band called Darlin' (named after a Beach Boys song) with friend Laurent Brancowitz, who currently plays guitar in French group Phoenix. After being reviewed by Melody Maker as "daft punky thrash," the resulting name change also spawned a move to recording electronic music.
* After releasing the breakthrough single ‘Da Funk.’ Daft Punk’s 1997 debut, Homework was followed in 2001 by Discovery, the duo’s best-selling album to date, featuring the club singles ‘One More Time.’ ‘Digital Love,’ and ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.’
* Daft Punk toured throughout 2006 and 2007 and released the live album Alive 2007, which won a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album. In addition, a 2008 collaboration with Kanye West on his No. 1 hit single ‘Stronger’ was labeled The Song of the Year by SPIN Magazine.
* Daft Punk explains the Random Access Memories title as being a “parallel between computers and hard drive and the human brain,” but also about just having fun with the word ‘memory. An official website features a video series called The Collaborators, a project that includes interviews with the album’s collaborators and excerpts of music from the new release.