With the single “Get Lucky” being last summer’s song of the year, Daft Punk struck a vein with their album “Random Access Memories”. Although listeners of the single release were either on one side or the other, overall the album is awesome. It’s not much of a surprise that the French duo picked up five Grammy’s for this work, including Album of the Year and Record of the year for Get Lucky. And with Pharrell involved, it’s hard to lose. Everything that he touches these days seems to turn to gold.
The sound is all about bass – it’s big on this album. It’s deep and rich and visceral. And then it builds to a nice groove that reverberates with listeners in a physical sense. Albums like this are the ones that you look back on in your life and remember the energy that you expended dancing to the music. It sticks with you and you can’t help but move. It’s big room music and doesn’t quite have the same essence if you’re listening on a small scale…a tinny radio speaker or phone speaker. It needs to have the audio strength behind it to really showcase the songs.
Mastering is one of the marvels of this album and the dynamics of the equalization on this album make it or break it. With the kind of bass backing up the electronic vibes with most of the songs on this album, is finding the balance between loud and distorted. This album was well mastered in that sense. If you listen to songs like “Contact” you’ll notice that it begins with a resonant bass early in the track that dissipates as the track finishes making room for the other elements and preventing the distortion.
The mixing of the loudness and the bass throughout the album hit the mark giving the album depth and heart. Vocalist Pharrell Williams sings in “Get Lucky” that “music and the liveness is what moves people”. Ironically enough, the pair that are bringing the “liveness” back to the music are electronic robot-dressed looking DJ’s. they’re delivering dance music that you can listen to and enjoy with great hooks. In addition, most of the music on this album is not digitized – it’s real instruments played by real players. Yes, there are still electronic tricks but there are real strings and vocalists.
The album’s only buzz is not solely based on the dynamic range of the music. There’s also quite a bit of talk happening around the vinyl release. Among recent releases, one will often find that a vinyl release will have a greater dynamic range in analogue than the CD version and in so far as this album is concerned, the values are slightly higher but in truth, the digital version is a close comparison. Overall, the album is masterful and if you have an ear for mastering, you will get absorbed in the work that went into putting this together just as much as you will in the music itself. Very little beats a good master.