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If you believe that the direction EDM has taken in recent years is the epitome of what this scene has to offer in terms of musical development, stop reading this article now. If you believe that Random Access Memories was to be EDM’s Bible and Daft Punk her Jesus, stop reading this article now. If, however, you do love music, EDM or otherwise, you have come to the right place.
As an avid Daft Punk fan for as long as I can remember, the negative review given by many of my peers to Random Access Memories is not lost on me. However, they all have one decidedly unproductive criticism that I feel is unreasonable – the expectation of this album to revolutionize the modern dance scene. Sure, Daft Punk is a staple of EDM, and expecting a recreation of Homework, or Discovery isn’t exactly unwarranted given the unprecedented influence of those albums so many years later. Remember though, how long ago that actually was and just how much of the Dance scene/sound/culture has changed since then. It has been a long development into one rather homogeneous scene/sound/culture since they last produced an album, for better or worse, and the fact that this album didn’t fit the mould is anything but a bad thing.
Random Access Memories may not have brought about the mountain-moving new trend to give EDM a new direction, but as a body of work it is exceptional. The entire album has its own continuous, unique sound, which is integral to creating a proper record – something that has mostly disappeared from this genre. Hearing a bit more modern influence dispersed throughout would have been nice, but obeying the current standard was not their aim. Daft Punk instead sought to deliver what they wanted to hear in every song. There isn’t a ton of variety, but there are also very few disappointing tracks to be had; I honestly would have been far more disappointed had this album consisted purely of festival bangers, pitched kick and all. What it ultimately comes down to is, why is it a bad thing that they did something entirely different? Afterall, they are the artist right? The music is good, it’s not what everyone thought they wanted to hear, but given the “leak” of Get Lucky, the album’s general sound should have been understood.
Yet still, disappointment resounds.
Daft Punk doesn’t do interviews, leaks, lavish outfits (outside of the signature helmets adorning the album cover). This time around, they did and I highly doubt it was their choice. Columbia Records is really the only new variable in producing Random Access Memories. It is rather doubtful that the duo allowed the obvious single from the album to be leaked after an eight year hiatus since their last artist album, it was merely a marketing ploy, like those awesome YSL suits. Nothing but hype. But any press is good press, and Columbia generated a whole lot of that.
This album, built off the legend of Daft Punk‘s previous successes led most of us to believe that this album would characterize everything about the robots we love and surpass their earlier albums with ease. Everything up until Random Access Memories did embody the robotic nature of EDM and in a lot of ways, created it. Instead, RAM embraces the human aspect of Daft Punk, something that any music lover should appreciate.
If anything, thank Columbia Records for attempting to further advance themselves into the EDM scene using Daft Punk‘s persona and historical success to promote a work that is almost entirely unrelated. The artist’s did what they should do, which was creating a cohesive body of work, whether or not it is consistent with EDM’s current paradigm – which is frankly getting old.
Is it a rebirth of EDM? No, probably not, but is it a good album? Yes, it most definitely is. Most of the best parts of Dance music hinge on the unexpected, why not embrace this album as such? I’m sure I’m not the only one that isn’t disappointed by this album, even though I highly doubt I would spin any of these tracks in my own sets. As music, it’s difficult to actually hold anything against Random Access Memories aside from the expectations that were raised for it.
It may yet make a substantial wave in the EDM community and while it wasn’t the prodigy-delivered-ass-kicking some of us wanted to hear, it is, if nothing else, good music. Leave it to the rest of EDM, they’ll turn it all into anthems soon enough.