Prog, angst and cosmic pyramids: why Daft Punk are my generation’s Pink Floyd
Masterfully languid angst … Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright and Dave Gilmour in 1973 (left) and Daft Punk in 2013. Composite: Getty Images/ Murdo Macleod
It took me years to come round to Random Access Memories, until I connected the dots to its unlikely cousin 40 years its senior, Dark Side of the Moon
Few records in the 21st century have divided a band’s fans as much as Daft Punk’s fourth studio album, Random Access Memories. While the reviews were largely positive, a significant swathe of the band’s fanbase wondered why they had swapped techno for soft rock. It took me years to come to peace with this beguiling, if confounding, album, until one day the refracted light came on and the pre-decimal penny dropped: Random Access Memories was the 21st century Dark Side of the Moon. And the 10th anniversary reissue of RAM, which arrives on 12 May (coincidentally less than two months after the 50th anniversary edition of Pink Floyd’s legendary eighth album) will help to prove it.
The inflection point in my thinking was Horizon, a Japanese-edition bonus track on RAM, which is getting a full release as part of the album’s extravagant new triple-LP reissue. It is one of the least electronic songs ever to be released by a duo of electronic musicians: four a half minutes of horizontal space vibes, which stretch out on a base of acoustic guitar, soothing keyboard trills and Greg Leisz’s celestial pedal steel. The subtle shade of a drum machine aside, Horizon could pass for a long-lost Dark Side outtake. (It is no surprise that an enterprising music fan has created a mash up of Horizon with the vocal from Pink Floyd’s follow-up Wish You Were Here).