Daft Punk revisit the Golden Age of Dance Music and ‘Get Lucky’

28th June 2013
Daft Punk’s highly anticipated fourth studio album Random Access Memories has arrived. Hotly tipped to be one of the best-selling albums of the last decade, as well as the best-selling album of the year, the first single from the album, ‘Get Lucky’ featuring Pharrell Williams, shot straight into the UK top 10 and then to Number 1 a week later – the duo’s first UK number 1! ‘Get Lucky’ has also become the first single released in 2013 to sell a million copies in the UK. (NME.com)
So what is it about Random Access Memories that has the music world buzzing?

Famous for their mix of electronic house/synthpop, the duo spent four years and over $1million revisiting the Golden age of music production. The pair had stated in various interviews that the music of the 70s and 80s represents “the zenith of a certain craftsmanship in sound recording” and have criticised music made on laptops which “aren’t really musical instruments”. They had been dissatisfied with earlier Random Access Memories demos in which synthesizers were prominently featured and, after recording the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron: Legacyfocussed their attention on the recording of live instruments. During the creative development process of their new album, Daft Punk had gone back the recording methods of the 70s and 80s, which not only involved a huge budget, but also the input of musicians from this era.

The band had a clear idea in their minds for the sound of the album and analogue was the only way to go… a gamble which undoubtedly paid off, culminating in ‘one of the best engineered records in many years’. With the assistance of Peter Franco (Engineer, Grammy Award Winner, 2008, Best Electronic Dance Album,‘Alive’) and Mick Guzauski (Engineer, Grammy Award Winner, 2007, Best Contemporary Blues Album, ‘Road to Escondido’), Daft Punk began the recording process, which took place at various locations – including Electrical Lady Studios in New York and Capitol Studios in Hollywood. The duo used none other than Neve 1073 mic pres to record vocals and also live guitars, and recorded the orchestra in Studio A at Capitol Studios. Once the recordings were finished, mixdown took place at Conway Studio C (Hollywood) using the Neve 88R, which has 24 remote Neve mic pres, consisting of 12 1081Rs and 12 1081R Air versions.

They also spent a lot of time auditioning compressors with the Neve 33609 coming out on top. Daft Punk originally bought a vintage reconditioned 33609 but it didn’t quite produce the sound they wanted – so they traded it in and bought the 33609 that Conway Studios had because ‘everybody loved that one’.

Franco told Sound on Sound Magazine (July, 2013) “There is something about analogue that is so much more lively and so much more appealing. Even when you don’t hear the difference it seems that people feel it, and this is crucial, because music is all about feeling and how it changes your mood.”

With five star reviews and if the sales figures are anything to go by, could the success of Random Access Memories actually lie in its analogue roots?