Thursday, December 06, 2007

Daft Punk - Alive 2007

Daft Punk
Alive 2007 (Virgin Records, 2007)
Grade: A

Download: Daft Punk - "Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls"
Download: Daft Punk - "Robot Rock/Oh Yeah"
Download: Daft Punk - "Around the World/Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"

People love to dance to Daft Punk; Dance parties get rowdy while "Around the World" explodes from the speakers, and not a single dance party can be considered worthwhile if there is not at least one Daft Punk song blasting from the speakers. I've always imagined Daft Punk's live shows to capture the essence of the home stretch of a really good party: everyone's starting to show the wear, but they remain unwilling to let it get to them.

And that's the exact feeling that permeates Alive 2007.

All of Daft Punk's songs translate very, very well from record to live concert. On Alive 2007, part of how the group recreates the crystalline sound of their recordings reflects upon the fact that Daft Punk is working with better equipment now. Many of the songs, particularly those off of Homework, sport a more robust sound than they did on earlier incarnations. Electronic tones and buzzes resonate and have far more weight than they did on the original album versions.

But that doesn't minimize the fact that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo really go the extra mile to ensure that the musical presentation of each of their songs is flawless. Interspersed samples unite the whole album, and the way songs fade into each other creates a beautiful sense of tension and delirium.

On the song set "Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls", both of these qualities are demonstrated wonderfully. A sample from "Around the World" weaves in and out of the background during the perfectly blended mega-song, the hypnotic result being that it's very easy to forget what song you're listening to – is it "Television" or was it "Around the World"? And where did "Crescendolls" just go? The end effect, however, is that the strongest assets of the constituent songs are sewn together into a groovy Frankensong.

I can't really see how one could listen to songs from original Daft Punk albums with such solid new mixes lying around. Even tracks off of Human After All, which was unforgivably boring, get a new shot at life. "Technologic," for example, gets shocked back from the grave with a current of jumpy techno beats.

A studio-produced greatest hits record couldn't encapsulate Daft Punk's career better than this live album does. Alive 2007 pulls songs from each of the band's albums, breathing new life into old classics by simply shuffling the track list. For example, "Prime Time of Your Life", in it's original incarnation, never really did anything for me. But putting it next to "Aerodynamic Beats/Gabrielle, Forget About the World" brings out the triumph in the song's every declaration just barely enough to override any sort of skepticism about the cheesy lyrical content of the song.

Alive 2007 poses an incredibly original and powerful way for a band to play tribute to their own career. On this record, Daft Punk more-or-less plays the listener the band's history. Perhaps putting busting out new remixes could be labeled as revisionist, but this album captures the spirit of what Daft Punk has always been: a fucking amazing dance band.

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(April Wright)

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