Daft Punk helped lead the charge for the EDM (electronic dance music) genre. Being one with the machines is kind of the point of being an EDM DJ/producer. It’s a quest that begat Girl Talk and Skrillex. But is that making music? Isn’t being a DJ or producer just pushing buttons?
Daft Punk’s new album,“Random Access Memories,” is a legit disco record, with live instrumentation by session heavies including Chic frontman Nile Rogers and Fourplay bassist Nathan East. There are full orchestra parts that sound like the Moody Blues. It’s not all retro: Vocals by rapper Pharrell and Animal Collective’s Panda Bear fit right in.
It’s an expansively (and expensively) produced record. Daft Punk is showing what that term “producer” used to mean and can still mean. It is pushing buttons, but it’s also dreaming, recruiting, composing, conceptualizing, conducting, editing and being obsessive. “Doin’ It Right,” featuring Panda Bear, boils it down: “If you’re doing it right/ everybody will be dancing.”
U Street Music Hall will host a listening party for the album tonight, where you can see the results of that theory in action.U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW; today, 8 p.m., $5 ages 18-20, free for ages 21 and up; 202-588-1880. (U Street)