Acoustic Sounds

Daft Punk

Random Access Memories (10th Anniversary Edition)



Daft Punk Random Access Memories Deluxe Set

Label: Columbia / Legacy

Produced By: Daft Punk

Engineered By: Peter Franco, Mick Guzauski, Florian Lagatta, Daniel Lerner, et al

Mixed By: Mick Guzauski, Seth Waldmann, Peter Franco

Mastered By: Bob Ludwig, Chab, Florian Lagatta

Lacquers Cut By: Marie Pieprzownik and Benjamin Savignoni

By: Malachi Lui

May 14th, 2023



Daft Punk’s Newly Expanded ‘Random Access Memories’ Leaves You Wanting More

The original album? Great as ever. The bonus disc? Unessential.

No matter how hard you tried, in 2013 you could not escape Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The French duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo released their fourth and presumably final album at the end of the era when labels still spent big money promoting their A-listers, and Columbia certainly promoted the hell out of this one; the album’s lead single “Get Lucky” and images of the helmeted duo were everywhere. With its disco stylings, obsessive studio polish not seen so blatantly since Steely Dan’s late-70s heyday, and “real instruments” that the older establishment sorely missed in 2013’s pop landscape, the album was practically industry bait, and intentional or not, it worked. It won Album Of The Year at the 2014 Grammys as well as widespread critical acclaim.

Now the focus of an expanded 10th anniversary reissue (way to make the younger generations feel old already!), Random Access Memories still holds up. Time and distance reveals it to be more about craft than the actual (decent) songwriting, but few records are so immaculately constructed. Criticisms towards RAM’s nostalgic focus remain valid, though thankfully it didn’t cause a nonstop barrage of 70s throwbacks, and the few who tried didn’t get very far. Daft Punk spent four years and a million dollars of their own money making this, and it sounds like it.

And yes, the sound is part of what makes the album so special. Recorded at Conway, Henson, Capitol, Electric Lady, and Studio Gang, Daft Punk and their engineers tracked the sessions to tape and Pro Tools simultaneously, built and edited songs in Pro Tools, mixed it almost entirely in the analog domain, and printed the mixes to both tape and hi-res digital before choosing the best sources for each track. I’ve seen Reddit posts asking “how do I make my record sound like Random Access Memories?” and if you’ve read the highly informative Sound On Sound article about the technical process… good luck, hopefully your savings account is full. No matter what format you listen to, Random Access Memories has a natural soundstage, midrange that’s luxurious but not overly sweet, and clean, extended bass.

Despite the sound already being excellent, the original US pressing cut by Chab at Translab, plated at Optimal, and pressed at Pallas could be slightly improved upon. There was a tad too much midbass and the high frequencies seemed somewhat veiled in comparison to the 88.2kHz/24bit master resolution file. The new 10th anniversary vinyl pressed at Optimal uses a more recent cut of the main album by Marie Pieprzownik and Benjamin Savignoni—also at Translab in Paris—which has tighter bass, airier highs, and quieter backgrounds. The digital source file isn’t remastered and didn’t need to be, rather this is merely a newer set of lacquers. If you’re satisfied with the Chab cut, you can skip the new cut (which I believe is the same cut used on all Optimal RAM represses of the past two years).

As post-pandemic supply chain issues continue and the vinyl market shifts towards younger buyers with tighter budgets, slightly expanded $50-60 commemorative packages have taken focus over the elaborate anniversary box set. The 10th anniversary Random Access Memories, retailing at $50, includes that newer cut of the original album plus a new bonus disc with 35 minutes of “unreleased demos and outtakes.” More precisely, you get around 30 minutes of actually unreleased material, mostly studio scraps. You’d think that a million dollars and four years in the studio would result in more valuable unreleased material, but I’m sure the 25th and 40th anniversary box sets will be absolutely sumptuous.

The bonus LP starts with “Horizon Ouverture,” a new choral intro to “Horizon,” already released as a Japanese CD bonus track and also included here. It makes sense as a bonus track, though an instrumental that sounds like end credits music is an odd way to start a half hour of bonus material. Don’t you just love RAM’s opener “Give Life Back To Music”? Here’s an early instrumental take soaked in 70s disco strings, as well as an unfinished track called “Prime” that sounds like “Give Life Back To Music” if it was made for Daft Punk’s TRON: Legacy soundtrack. Nice curios but I’m not dying to hear them again, nor would I or most others need them on vinyl. There’s also a 33-second early take of “Get Lucky” (c’mon, there’s gotta be more than 33 seconds of that sitting around!), a couple minutes of Thomas and Guy-Man messing around with their vocoders over the backing track of “Lose Yourself To Dance,” a stop-start audio documentary of the robots and Todd Edwards writing “Fragments Of Time,” and the excerpt/remix of “Touch” used at the end of the 2021 breakup announcement video “Epilogue” (the visual part of which comes from their worthwhile 2006 avant-garde sci-fi film Electroma).

The main selling point of the new bonus material is “Infinity Repeating,” a demo featuring the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and his other band the Voidz. Marketed as “the last Daft Punk song ever,” “Infinity Repeating” builds up around a looping motif as Casablancas vocoder-croons “It’s not right/It’s not true/It’s not right/It’s not how we used to do” before layers of cymbals drown him out at the end. It’s an excellent song in context, but frustrating in how it could’ve been ten times better if properly finished. As it stands, it’s a brilliant outline that’s more of a canvas on which to project the idea of it being a great song, rather than being a great song on its own.

The sound on the bonus disc is just as good as the proper album, though unless you don’t already have the original record, this 10th anniversary edition is for completists only. “Infinity Repeating” aside, the bonus disc is something you’ll listen to once and forget about. The packaging is also underwhelming: the three records, a large “Lose Yourself To Dance” poster, and an 8-page booklet (marketed as 16 pages) are stuffed into a direct-to-board gatefold with a wider spine but no extra pocket capacity. Therefore, ring imprints are inevitable and it’s a tight fit getting the contents in and out. All three Optimal-pressed 180g records were pristine with only a few patches of light noise in quiet sections, like the intro to “Within.” This reissue is a disappointment that only leaves me wanting more that we likely won’t get anytime soon, though for Daft Punk and Columbia Records, it’s a convenient way to make hardcore fans buy it again and also keep up with the continual vinyl demand for this album. (You can also get this deluxe edition on CD, but for such a well-recorded album, why would you want that?)

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 19658773731

Pressing Plant: Optimal


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: Digital Master

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2023-05-16 03:34:31 PM

    Nigel Tufnel wrote:

    Malachi - very informative review - thanks!