Reviews

Daft Punk “Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition)” Album Review

Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition)

Daft Punk

  • Genre: Dance
  • Date: 17 Nov, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Track(s): 13
  • ℗ 2023 Daft Life Limited under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment

Daft Punk &Quot;Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition)&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, March 2, 2024

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk’s last album, was released in May 2013. With live instrumentation and collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers on the electro-funk lead single “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk’s style underwent an unexpected but fruitful development from what it was known for initially. Ten years later, Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition) aims to offer a fresh interpretation. One of the most innovative creative teams in recent memory, Daft Punk, should have capitalized on the positive momentum from RAM’s 10th-anniversary reissue earlier this year instead of releasing an entirely unneeded but pleasing album.

With the contributions of two of the greatest session drummers in the world utterly absent from Daft Punk’s painstakingly crafted fourth studio album, why would anyone choose to listen to it? Speculation has flourished in the absence of an official answer. Some fans have argued that RAM Drumless is meant for DJs and producers who wish to make their RAM mixes and bootlegs. Still, it ignores the major-label system’s blatant hostility toward fan-made remixes that violate copyright and the expensive Drumless merchandise. The exciting thing is that Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition) is precisely that—Random Access Memories without the drums.

Album Art

Daft Punk &Quot;Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition)&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, March 2, 2024

The album’s striking all-white artwork incorporates the two musicians’ well-known helmets. This contrasts with the album’s initial release, which had the same helmet fusion coloured in a dark hue.

Tracks And Features

The intriguing thing about this album—which includes all 13 of the tracks from the first release, except the drums—is how you anticipate the drums to sound. That pulls you in and forces you to listen even more when they don’t.”Give life back to music” is the album’s opening track, and while it lacks the percussion, this version is just as fascinating as the original, though many will prefer the drums back. The funky guitar of Richard Rodgers saves the once-cruisy ‘Give Life Back to Music’ from abyssal ruin.

“Game of Love (Drumless Edition)” sounds more stripped-down and emptier initially, almost like an acoustic rendition. The song sounds considerably more intimate without the drums, almost as if you’re in the room with a pair instead of a full rock band. The bass, keyboard, and vocoded robot vocals are still present. These elements take centre stage without percussion, creating a unique and captivating listening experience. The drumless version allows for a deeper appreciation of the intricate melodies and harmonies, showcasing the musicality and talent of the artists involved. The absence of drums adds a particular vulnerability to the track, making it feel more personal and raw.

This record succeeds because the true fan is somehow compelled to hear the music to the end. “Lose Yourself to Dance,” another Pharrell and Rodgers song, is annoying without percussion; it’s never as good as “Get Lucky.” Furthermore, there’s no swagger to Casablancas’ synth-rock hit Instant Crush, which, incidentally, Natalie Imbruglia recorded on her 2015 album ‘Male.’ “Get Lucky” stands out with its infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics, making it impossible to resist dancing along. The collaboration between Pharrell and Rodgers creates a perfect blend of disco and funk elements that keeps the listener engaged throughout the song. Additionally, Casablancas’ rendition of “Instant Crush” lacks Imbruglia’s version’s charisma and energy, making it pale in comparison.

 

Warm, contemplative tracks like “Within” and “Touch” turn from their electronic edge into piano ballads, revealing even more honesty. Songs with a pop focus and muddled lyrics, like “Instant Crush (ft. Julian Casablancas),” draw attention to the formerly ambiguous words. The meaning of the music completely shifts in your mind. These contrasting elements showcase the versatility of the artist’s musical style, allowing listeners to experience a range of emotions. The transformation from electronic to piano-driven ballads adds a layer of vulnerability and depth to the listening experience.

Even if it loses some of its overall dynamism, Paul Williams’s rendition of Drumless, RAM’s apex, ‘Touch’—which he also co-wrote with Kermit the Frog’s iconic Rainbow Connection—has a mysterious beauty with orchestration and choir. ‘Touch’ is a spacy song reminiscent of Daft Punk’s French peers Air. The combination of Williams’s vocals and the intricate arrangement creates a mesmerizing atmosphere that transports listeners to another world. The celestial choir and the sweeping orchestral elements enhance the ethereal quality of “Touch.”

Even though radio hits like “Get Lucky (ft. Pharrell Williams)” sound somewhat muted compared to their original versions, the album’s overall focus on music’s ever-changing identity allows each listener to have a unique listening experience. This adjustment is subtle but effective. By stripping down the songs, Daft Punk creates a more intimate and reflective atmosphere, inviting listeners to appreciate the intricacies of their production. The subdued nature of the radio hits also highlights the duo’s ability to experiment with different genres and push boundaries within their music. And while a drum-less rendition of RAM’s 10-year-anniversary penultimate track “Doin’ it Right” with Panda Bear sounds intriguing, Daft Punk’s fourth studio album deserves a well-earned break.

“Contact,” the album’s last track, masterfully captures the record’s mood with its melodic quality and focus on the instrumental parts that percussion had previously covered. The song seamlessly blends electronic elements with live instrumentation, creating a dynamic listening experience. Its pulsating beats and intricate layers of sound leave a lasting impression, making “Contact” a standout finale that showcases the album’s artistic vision and musical prowess.

Tracklist

NO TITLE ARTIST TIME
1 Give Life Back to Music (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 4:34
2 The Game of Love (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 5:22
3 Giorgio by Moroder (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 9:05
4 Within (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 3:48
5 Instant Crush (Drumless Edition) (feat. Julian Casablancas) Daft Punk & Julian Casablancas 5:37
6 Lose Yourself to Dance (Drumless Edition) (feat. Pharrell Williams) Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams 5:54
7 Touch (Drumless Edition) (feat. Paul Williams) Daft Punk & Paul Williams 8:19
8 Get Lucky (Drumless Edition) (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers) Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers 6:09
9 Beyond (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 4:50
10 Motherboard (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 5:41
11 Fragments of Time (Drumless Edition) (feat. Todd Edwards) Daft Punk & Todd Edwards 4:39
12 Doin’ it Right (Drumless Edition) (feat. Panda Bear) Daft Punk & Panda Bear 4:11
13 Contact (Drumless Edition) Daft Punk 6:21

Album Summary

There is nothing wrong with Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition) sounding like one of those fan efforts—they were not required to. It is an exciting project even if no one requests it, and it will never be able to replace the original. A drum-free record is genuinely pushing the envelope in a music industry that has never hesitated to oversell fans on records they already possess. However, brief bursts of auditory revelation and drumless enlightenment are enough to save it from the vast cosmic landfill of meaninglessness. A strange and disappointing conclusion to the RAM tale, RAM Drumless is neither a triumph lap nor a walk of shame.

In its darkest moments, Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition) sounds like a joke without a punchline—a concept album so conceptually pure that it didn’t need to exist. It’s a bold move that challenges the status quo and forces listeners to reevaluate their expectations of what a Daft Punk album should sound like.

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