• July 24, 2014

Daft Punk seduces machines into singing

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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013 4:30 am

On its wildly anticipated fourth studio album, “Random Access Memories,” helmeted duo Daft Punk go harder, better, faster, stronger than ever before.

The eight-year wait for new music paid off as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter weave an intellectually seductive sonic landscape with a rewarding amount of catchy beats. It’s the first time Daft Punk leaves the computer at home, using only live instruments, a modular synthesizer and vintage vocoders, the latter of which are heavily employed.

The 13-track record investigates the boundaries of art versus science through time by sampling a ’70s and ’80s sound as interpreted by machines invented in 2040. But make no mistake, there are about two songs that put the spunky D in EDM and both are Pharrell’s contributions — “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance.”

The rest of the tunes explore variations of the symbiosis between man and artificial constructs. Paul Williams’ warm voice balances the eerie space built by synths in “Touch,” while “The Game of Love” is a wistful funk love letter to humanity.

“Random Access Memories” is the mirror image of its authors: mysterious, challenging, brave and a little bit crazy.

Rucker settles in on new album

On his two previous Nashville, Tenn.-recorded solo albums, Darius Rucker proved he could gain acceptance from contemporary country music fans. On new album “True Believers,” he proves he can do more than create formulaic radio hits: Finding a country voice and sound of his own, Rucker shows he can leave a distinctive mark on 21st century country music.

With the funk-country rhythms of “Radio,” ‘‘Shine” and “Lost In You,” he combines the beach-music sound of his native South Carolina with the breezy, catchy side of current Nashville hits. With powerful originals like the roots-rocking “Heartbreak Road” and the raw emotions of “Miss You,” Rucker makes great use of the expressive capabilities of his baritone voice — which had been so important to the success of his rock band, Hootie & the Blowfish.

Rucker writes 10 of the 12 songs on “True Believers,” yet adds momentum to the collection with two well-chosen songs by others. He faithfully covers Old Crow Medicine Show’s Americana hit, “Wagon Wheel,” and nicely handles a duet with Sheryl Crow on “Love Without You,” written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally.

Altogether, “True Believers” suggests the 47-year-old has found a home on the country charts where he can settle down for a long spell.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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