‘Daft’ and ‘random’ doesn’t begin to describe the news about the forthcoming Daft Punk release, Random Access Memories. On Tuesday, Australian small-town newspaper The Narrabri Courier reported that Daft Punk “has chosen to launch its highly-anticipated new album in Australia, with the official global site to be the Wee Waa Showground.”
The Wee Waa Showground, curiously, is not one of Australia’s notorious outdoor music festivals, but rather… a sheep and cattle show, hosted annually in the tiny town of Wee Waa.
The reason for this strange choice isn’t known to anyone but the masked duo themselves. All else is conjecture. “Daft Punk is known for breaking down barriers and coming up with new creative, innovative ideas to launch their albums,” supposes Narrabri Shire Council mayor Conrad Bolton, unhelpfully.
Not much is known about the album itself, either. So far, nobody’s even been pranked by fake leaks of the sort that infamously accompanied 2005’s Human After All. But still, this is exactly the kind of move you can expect from two grown men who’ve spent their whole careers wearing plastic robot helmets. Daft Punk and its members are well known for their eyebrow-raising career moves — creating a full-length anime (Interstella 5555) with legendary director Leiji Matsumoto, producing a nightmare soundtrack to Gaspar Noe’s horror-shocker Irreversible, and embarking on some seriously strange ad campaigns.
Even though they’ve only produced four albums since 1997, you can’t accuse Daft Punk of standing still. Comprising Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, Daft Punk are the undisputed kings of French house. They hit it big in 1997 with Homework, a critically acclaimed blend of progressive house and funk that ushered in a whole new era of rave music and signaled the end of the chirpy Eurodance that had dominated the scene up to that point. 2001 saw the release of Discovery, an even more massive sensation, featuring the ubiquitous singles “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.
Despite massive pre-release buzz, 2005’s Human After All, came as a disappointment to many. Critics and disappointed devotees panned the album as sterile and repetitive. Some changed their tune after experiencing the album tour’s spectacular stage and light show, or hearing subsequent concert albums Alive 2006 and Alive 2007.
Film fans had more cause to celebrate with the 2006 Cannes premiere of Daft Punk’s Entroma. The elliptical sci-fi art film evinced that maybe dance music wasn’t the sum of Daft Punk’s artistic ambitions. Their cinematic interests took the lead in 2010, with the release Disney’s cornball blockbuster Tron: Legacy. The film featured Daft Punk’s elegant and moody orchestral-electronic score, which many viewers praised as a highlight. An accompanying Tron remix album featuring Glitch Mob and others solidified Daft Punk’s return to form as flagbearers of futuristic house.
Which brings us to now, as millions await the next word on Random Access Memories.
Set to be unleashed upon millions of fans (and several hundred heads of confused livestock) on May 21st, the album has already began raising eyebrows, with collaborator Todd Edwards‘ hints that Daft Punk has gone a more analogue, retro and layered route this time around. It’s not often you hear Fleetwood Mac and the Doobie Brothers mentioned in connection with French electro, but there you have it.
None other than Italo-disco legend Giorgio Moroder, also appearing on Random Access Memories (!), has stated that Daft Punk’s new sound will be “a step forward” for the duo, and who are we to argue with the god of synths? Other known collaborators include disco pioneer Nile Rodgers, making Random Access Memories a truly exciting proposition for fans of analogue groove.
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s a few words about Random Access Memories from Moroder himself: