We’ve heard these trips into the storied past of dance music before. Morgan Geist collected his random assortment of crate-curated Italo-Disco gems on 2004’s Unclassics.
In 2007, The Canseco’s spliced together an infamous mash-up of a decade’s worth of Saturday Night Fever on their Juiced! mixtape. But neither of those releases comes close to carrying the odd, precocious level of respect that Daft Punk bring to their new, much-hyped album, “Random Access Memories”.
The album’s thesis statement arrives squarely on Track 3, “Giorgio on Moroder”. Synthesizer legend Giorgio Moroder talks frankly about his goals of creating the future of music. The accompanying soundtrack breaks down to Giorgio’s miraculous realization: that a simple click track and arpeggiated synths constituted the realm of the new.
It’s been over 40 years since Giorgio worked with Donna Summer on disco classics like “Love to Love You Baby”, and here, squarely in the present, he is honored as the revolutionary hero he should be.
Longtime Daft Punk fans will remember the track “Teachers” from 1997’s Homework. On it, French twenty-somethings Guy-Manuel Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter set shout-outs to everyone from Brian Wilson to George Clinton to a simple 808 beat.
But since their debut, Daft Punk has ascended from naïve button-attackers -
- to Disney feature film-soundtrackers.
So. they don’t have to send shout-outs to their heroes, now they can employ them. Look no further than the hearty presence of Chic’s Niles Rodgers, whose whip-smart steel guitar brings some serious Le Freak to his trio of songs.
Paired with Michael Jackson mainstay Paul Jackson Jr., or members of the Australian rock band Sherbet, Daft Punk hasn’t sounded this fresh in years, something that allows them to travel down paths to funk and prog-rock they’ve never explored before.
In an era obsessed with the new, it can become routine to constantly explore what’s next, so much so that we can forget where all this new music actually began. Sometimes we need to slow down and peer into the past. Random Access Memories gives us all a perfect excuse to do just that.
Okay, get going. Daft Punk gave you homework.