Tuesday, June 4, 2013


With summer almost here, and temperatures varying up to sweaty, I find myself once more with a dilemma.  Some of my music listening is done in the car, on my daily commute to work (six minutes), ferrying children around, or running errands.  And before the air conditioning gets working, that means a few minutes driving with the window down.  My latest listening, at my usual somewhat cranked volume, saw one of those awkward moments at a stop light, as I looked over at the car next to me.  Checking me out  was the kid in the passenger seat, as disco music blared in his direction.  I set my eyes straight ahead, turned the volume down to a whisper, and waited for what seemed the longest light in the city to change.

See, I'd been hearing from some reliable sources, friends with good ears, that the new Daft Punk was worthwhile.  I've been chided in the past by some for not being hep to tech and electro and such (note that I still use the word 'hep'), and I figured I should try at least something, and see if I could find something to like.  The popular French house-synthpop group seemed like the thing, hot as they are.  Listen one:  Disco with auto-tuned vocals.  Listen two:  Very good replication of classic disco and soul of the 70's, with synths added on, and lots of auto-tuned vocals.  Listen three:  Why?

There are very nice moments, such as the tender whispers of Touch, a rare slow one with a choir of angels singing "If love is the answer, you're home, hold on".  And a lot of the funky tracks start to wear you down as you settle into the grooves, and start to think this dance music can be pretty cool.  But I'm still left with the why question.  Daft Punk have re-invented the wheel here, giving us the same disco beds of the genre's glory days, lots of excellent riffs and rhythms, that popping bass sound, the hi-hat accented drums, the heavenly guitar chords ch-ch-chunking in.  There are even guest appearances by some of the greats of the day, Chic's Nile Rodgers, and famous session guys Nathan East on bass and drummer Omar Hakim.  So there's an excellent, real instrument sound going on here, with the D.P. synths laid on top.  My guess is, like many of my age, I'm stuck with a framework of thinking that I can't undo.  When I hear disco, my 70's programming tells me to hate it, as we did back then, like a Habs fan hated the Leafs.  And even though now, when I hear The Hues Corporation's Rock The Boat, and find myself enjoying it, I still have these issues.  Random Access Memories is an excellent tribute and update to an admittedly excellent sound, and there, I've said it.

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