Monday, September 14, 2015

Top Ten Songs and a Review Conclusion

Hey y'all.  So what better way to end a series of music reviews than with a top ten list? Two, in fact?  So these are my top ten songs for Infected Mushroom and Daft Punk.  That is, the top ten I like to listen to.  While I normally like to be objective, this is music, and to call something a top ten song of a band, well, you've got to have pretty clear standards for why those particular songs are the best.  Here, these are just my personal favorites.

Let's start with Daft Punk.  I like a fair number of their songs, and Musique is good to play when I'm baking.  It keeps me going.  The only downside is that Daft Punk's best songs tend to be the more popular ones, making searches for hidden gems a difficult task.




10.  Funk AD
Yes, I'm going to be that person.  I like this song.  It works very well as an outro song, also proving that Da Funk actually can work backwards. This represents fun experimentation, and its silliness makes me happy.

9. Aerodynamic
Of course, everyone likes this song.  What I like about it is that it's an example of rock submitting to electronic music rather than the reverse.  It's plunky, fun, and exciting.  What's not to like?

8. Instant Crush
Yes, I know I said that this is more of a Julian Casablancas song than a Daft Punk one.  At the same time, it's still got Daft Punk on the label, and I like it, so here it is.  It's a hypnotic electro punk track that captures the imagination.

7. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Of course.  This is only the single most popular Daft Punk song ever.  I have kind of an emotional attachment to it because of a Mega Man music video someone made, where each incarnation of Mega Man defeats his enemies.  Silly, yes, but the song is what makes it a driving force of old to new, with everything changing out from under you.  Best not to think of that too hard.

6. End of Line
I don't rant and rave about the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  It's good for what it is, and Daft Punk was a perfectly appropriate choice for it.  That said, End of Line works well.  It's the perfect end of movie "hero walks into the sunset" kind of track.  Very meditative, which is not something DP has done a lot.

5. Human After All
I like this song, and nothing will stop me from liking it.  Not even the fact that the rest of the album is meh.

4. Veridis Quo
Why do people dislike this song?  It's very antique, strange and haunting.  The buildup is slow, sure, but that's what makes this song so good.

3. Short Circuit
If I wanted to pick a song by Daft Punk that I would consider objectively the best, it would be Short Circuit.  This is the one with the most complex song progression, going from happy and funky to sinister and twisted, all without being clunky or artificial.  This is the kind of thing Daft Punk needs to do more of.

2.  Face to Face
The perfect electronic pop song.  It's weird, but meaningful, with refreshing lyrics that bring the funk. 

1. Forget About the World (Daft Punk Don't Forget the World Mix)
When I want to listen to something headbanging and electronic, this is what I pick.  I love both it and the original song it's based on, and this is the number one DP song I look for when I want to listen to them.

Next!


There's a reason why there are so few top ten Infected Mushroom lists on the net.  IM has so much good stuff that it's really odd to force favorites out of it. This list is more for fun than for any concrete absolute.  And will probably change over time -- because I'll forget about really awesome songs and then listen to them obsessively later -- with the exception of the top two.  For now, these are the songs I listen to/appreciate the most.

--- Top Ten Favorite Infected Mushroom Songs (For Now) ---

10.  Noise Maker
I probably shouldn't like this song as much as I do.  It's not IM's best work, and becomes a bit too much near halfway.  But I do like it.  It makes me happy.  It's cold, melodious, and absurd.  A great example of the more underground sounds of older electronic work.

9.  Smashing the Opponent
This song might not be the most electronic IM's ever done, but it's glorious.  The lyrics are beautiful and meaningful, and the featured artists in the song actually make it better, unlike a lot of music out there where featured artists either add nothing, or feel like they're just putting one of their own songs on someone else's cd.  This song is a confession of sin and weakness, and all the more gumptious for doing so.

8. Vicious Delicious/Heavyweight
Yep, a tie.  While most people come down firmly on the side of Heavyweight, these two songs are really more or less on the same level.  They're both nu metal in sound, the classic pattern of IM's sound-story collages, and a combination of serious and silly.  While Heavyweight's emotional appeal is strong, I'm really into the high-energy of Vicious Delicious.  And that part around 2:48 is awesome.

7.  Saeed
Who doesn't love this song?  It's wild, wacky, and emotional.  It manages to be both dark and fun at the same time.  The lyrics are pleasantly mysterious, but are just clear enough to convey some sort of meaning behind it.  It seems to be about deeply rooted insecurities, and how we act in relation to others because of these insecurities.  Or as much as I can guess, anyway.

6.  Cities of the Future
Sue me, I like this song.  It introduced me to the band, is great for running, and the breakdown after the main body of lyrics is marvelous.  Plus, the lyrics are actually fun.  I don't understand all the hate this song gets.

5.  None of This is Real
This represents IM's earlier usage of rock, in how they made it submit to psytrance instead of the other way around.  It also just sounds awesomely terrifying, like robots taking over the world or ancient beasts crying out in despair over the dystopian landscape.  Gorgeous.

4. Dancing with Kadafi
A beautiful adventure track that takes the listener on a trip through the world.  There's something in this song for everyone, even people scared of electronic music.  The part at five and a half minutes in is just glorious, then leads into a dark adventure.  I've said that the album Legend of the Black Shawarma would make a great inspiration for a story, but this song by itself can do the same.

3.  Shakawkaw
I love this song.  It's relaxed, serious, humorous, and almost computerish, all at different points.  It feels beautiful and strange, yet regular.  There's just something so...blue to it.  Yes, that makes sense. Sort of.

2. Send me an Angel
Yes, I do feel a little bad about putting a cover at the number two spot.  But not bad enough.  I love this song -- it inspires me and makes me feel happy.  I can write to this song, and write well. It's meditative, odd, and in hebrew.  Perfect.

1. Converting Vegetarians
I can understand why someone would be upset that this is the track I favor the most.  It's not all that representative of Infected Mushroom, either their newer or older sound.  This, however, is exactly what I want from electronic music.  I'm not picking the song that's most representative, I'm picking the one that makes me the happiest.  This song, from concept to execution, is weirder than all get out. The music and words blend together into a transcendental cacophony of sound and madness.  It makes me happy, so it wins.




Alright, I've said a lot of good things about Infected Mushroom, but I do want to mention a couple of things that Daft Punk does better than them.  It's only fair.  The reason why there is such a huge difference between the two is that while IM is focused only on music, Daft Punk tends to be more well rounded with its various art forms.

One area in which Daft Punk generally excels is in music videos.  While I criticized their Random Access Memories videos for being typical, they weren't outright awful.  They don't change the fact that Daft Punk has a whole history of avant guarde music videos to its name.  Daft Punk knows how to play the image game, and being French, they have access to a broad artistic history that, while sometimes too weird for its own good, is definitely something to talk about.



People go on and on about Da Funk's music video, and it got Daft Punk a lot of attention.  It portrays a dog-man with a broken leg going about life in the streets of a large city.  Notedly, I don't actually like this much.  In my opinion, a video should enhance or support a song.  Here, the talking and visuals do nothing for it.  On the other hand, the visuals and non-music audio aren't bad in and of themselves.  It's a cute short film, and the idea that someone is holding a stereo blasting Daft Punk is a good one.  I just don't think the song and video meshed all that well.  My opinion of the similar music video for Fresh, one which also stars the dog, is virtually identical.  It's definitely artistic, though.


Around the World is a classic video, one that captures exactly what Daft Punk was about.  While repetitive, it's avant guarde in a way that is very fitting for the robot duo.  While it's not the most interesting thing ever, it fits the song and catches people's attention.  But you have to imagine that those dancers had to have giggled relentlessly between takes over the silly costumes and dance moves.

Revolution 909's video and Burnin's have something in common.  They're both more interesting than the songs themselves.  They're both a story about something really simple.  Burnin's video is a story about a little boy who wants to be a firefighter, and 909's is the story of how a cop got tomato sauce on his collar, which allowed a couple of partiers to escape him.  They're both solid videos, I suppose.  The tomato one is more interesting because of the absurd factor.  Do we really need to see the tomato go from vine, to factory, to kitchen, to shirt?  No, but the journey there is fascinating, in the same way that the old kids show clip of watching crayons being manufactured was fascinating (that was from Sesame Street, right?  Or was it Mr. Rogers?).

So yeah, all the Homework era Daft Punk videos were on the grungy, urban, obtuse side of things,  with the exception of Around the World, which was just obtuse.  While only one of them really represented synergy between the sights and the sounds, they were all interesting, for different reasons.  But of course, the Discovery era videos surpassed them all.

Interstella 5555 is long, so you might as well watch it off-site where the screen is larger.

It's pretty impossible for most other music videos in existence to compete with this.  Not only does Interstella 5555 perfectly meld with the music, it actually improves it, creating something that can be enjoyed by a far broader audience than just the Discovery album alone.  This is one of my favorite films ever.  Granted, the film is full of plotholes, but the movie is such an experience that picking out plotholes is more for fun than for criticism, and none of the flaws in storytelling hurt the movie.

Simply put, Interstella 5555 is perhaps the best music video of all time.  You can argue with me about that point, but few videos reach the artistic high that this does.  Granted, few attempt to (time and expense, you know), but the fact that these songs could so easily be made into story speaks for their quality.

And then there's the Human After All era vids.  Nosedive!  Well, anything's a nosedive after Interstella, but this is the point where Daft Punk seemed to go off the deep end, both in terms of visual art and music.  If Human After All was the story of Thomas Bangalter's issues, then the music videos certainly match that.



To be fair, the music video to Technologic perfectly matches the song.  It's very avant guarde to show a robot baby wearing dentures "singing" it, and it's creepy.  I don't particularly care to watch this video again, but it does as it was meant.  It's pretty clever, even if I personally don't find it that appealing.



As much as I like the song, the video is just okay.  All of the previous Daft Punk videos showed a lot of thought conceptually, like they had clear, specific ideas for what they wanted.  Even if those ideas didn't fit the song or didn't appeal to everyone, there was obviously a firm conceptual foundation for them.  This right here is just visual gimmick.  Granted, there are lots of music videos like this, weird for weirdness' sake.  So while it's not technically horrible, it's still a step down from their older stuff.
Cute in its own way.

Y'know, I could post the Prime Time of Your Life's video, but I don't think I will.  I don't like it.  Granted, it mostly fits the song, and interesting and well shot, but eh...how interested are you in watching a girl cut off all the skin on her upper body?  Yes, it's all done in a cheesy, nineties way, but that doesn't mean it isn't creepy.  The video cleverly sets up the story of a girl who sees everyone else as skinny (actual skeletons) and herself as fat, hence the extreme method of weight loss.  The video ends with her skeleton waving to the skeletons of her friends.  I'm not sure how well that goes with lyrics about living your life, but okay....

Also, I should mention the video Electroma.  It's technically not a music video, but it is a Daft Punk directed film where they tell the sad, lonely story of two robots wanting to be human.  They attempt to hide their robot faces with masks, but then robot society kicks them out.  They then wander in the desert, where one robot asks the other to punch the self destruction button on his back.  The other robot, unable to reach his own, sets himself on fire, and then wanders into the night.

....Seriously, guys, someone got Tom his therapy, right?  Guy-Man, you holding up as well?  People love you, so don't ever feel alone.  We got your back.  Call someone, okay?

In any case, the Human After All era was a strange one for the guys.  While you could still see their creativity, it was all dark and depressing.  I don't get it.  How could they go from their best album to so brooding?  Did something bad happen to them while they were promoting Discovery?  I seriously want to know.

I've already commented some on Random Access Memories' videos.  They were just kind of there, very typical for music videos.  You've got the guys playing instruments and singing.  As though every band ever hasn't done that.  The Instant Crush video, while being a bit creative, didn't really fit the song.  It felt like it originated with studio executives instead of French artists.

At the same time, the downward spiral of Daft Punk music videos isn't really that negative.  They went from highly creative to typical, which makes them above average overall.  They've done a lot of good work over the years, and even their less likable stuff is simply mediocre, rather than outright terrible.  Say what you will about Daft Punk, but they know their artistic vision.




As for my beloved Infected Mushroom....holy crap, no.  They don't have many videos, which in itself is fine because musicians really should be more about the music.  It's just that what they do have is bad.  Truly terrible.  I don't even want to post the videos here.  But I will comment on them, in no particular order.

Becoming Insane, while a popular song, could only lead to a really dark music video.  It's just two people beating themselves up.  Simple and to the point, yes, but also derivative of Fight Club.  And while Fight Club's self harm was at least narratively interesting, Insane's video glorifies the gore of it, without adding anything else to the mix.  It's not scary to watch people beat themselves up, just uncomfortable.  Only the truly masochistic will want to watch this more than once.

The most bizarre choice for a music video was definitely the song You are So F-d.  This song is a joke, from the lyrics to the music.  It has no meaning, and doesn't represent the powerhouse of musical talent that Erez and Duvdev have.  And yet for some reason, it gets a music video.  A music video where two of my favorite people dress up in tight gold spandex and leather chaps, while allowing themselves to get beat up by two of the most disgusting looking women ever.  And then the women's heads explode.  The video is as much of a joke as the song is, except not funny.  Again, it's uncomfortable to watch.  Neither is it particularly creative or meaningful. 

Even worse is the video to Pink Nightmares.  While the song itself has value, the video is once more uncomfortable and unnecessarily violent.  It portrays a disgusting man living with his daughter, and he watches creepy porno on the telly (a woman with her face covered in a rabbit mask, boobs half out).  When he puts his daughter to bed, he does so in the creepiest manner possible, before going back to the porno.  Nightmarish creeps then attack him.

Granted, I actually like the nightmare beings in this video.  Too bad they're there for maybe a minute.  Also, if you're going to make a video about television degrading women, then perhaps the message would be better served by not creating more female degradation.  Just sayin'.  And nobody wants to watch a disgusting lout with his hand on his crotch.  I can do without that, thank you very much.

The best music video Infected Mushroom has done is Smashing the Opponent.  It's not the greatest, but it does show creativity.  It's at least non-violent.  It shows Infected Mushroom getting ready for a show, while all along everyone is ignoring them for the likes of one DJ Von Douche, a guy who is as obnoxious as the name implies.  He's the uncomfortable factor for the video, but he's also a funny message about the flaky nature of popularity -- people will freak out for someone who has the image, despite the fact he's an attention whore with minimal talent.

Thing is, the only part of the video that matches the song in any way is Jonathan Davis' television cut-ins, apparently filmed on a bus.  The rest of the video has nothing to do with the words of the song.  It's about admitting guilt, but DJ Von Douche is unrepentant.  While the video does tell a clear story that's at least a little funny, it's ultimately a distraction from the song, which I didn't fully appreciate until I heard it without the video.

Duvdev...Erez....please.  How about making a music video that I can watch without feeling disgusting?  Maybe even want to watch more than once?  How about that?  Maybe?   Just a little?  You guys are not nearly as edgy as you seem to want to appear.  Why not just make a video for a quieter song, and have a quieter message?  I'd settle for a video of Erez picking flowers for five minutes.  And by "settle," I mean I really, really want Erez to pick flowers.  He's pretty, and should be surrounded by pretty things.  

So yeah, Daft Punk easily takes the cake as far as music videos go.  They know a thing or two about image, and it shows.  Mushroom, on the other hand, doesn't seem to get the whole image thing at all.  Not that they really need to, because they've never been about the high sophistication and avant guarde elements Daft Punk is known for, but they should at least be able to be artsy without being repulsive. As is, in the music video department, it's not fair to Daft Punk to compare the two.

Another downfall of Infected Mushroom is their live shows, though this may be more of a personal problem than anything else.  That is, I don't like them using the guitar and drums during their live shows.  To me, watching a DJ set is like going to a classical music performance.  I don't go for a rock show, but to see masters of the craft work their instruments.  Perhaps I'm being too uptight about this.  Maybe it's cool that they're playing live instruments alongside the electronic recordings.  After all, the crowds seem happy.

But at the same time, here's where Daft Punk has a strange advantage.  Because Infected Mushroom is far superior in song progression, the end result is that the songs on their albums are fully realized.  They've reached peak artistry in the studio already.  Thus, the drums and electric guitar just make the songs louder, not better.  Likewise, the samples already present in the songs are great the way they are.  Duvdev singing over them during the live shows is like somebody singing over your favorite songs on the radio.  Duvdev does have a good voice, but not so much when he's running about on stage.

Daft Punk, on the other hand, has albums full of repetitive beats and edited samples.  Because Daft Punk is masterful at sampling, they can take their songs, repetitive and incomplete as many of them are, and blend them into each other.  Their fragmented nature of their repertoire means that they can treat their own songs like samples, thus giving their live audience something they can't get by simply buying the studio albums, remix albums aside.

So it turns out that the thing that makes Infected Mushroom so great is exactly what sabotages their live shows, and what renders Daft Punk mere samplists in the end turns them into world class DJs.  The ultimate irony is that while Infected Mushroom performs live at over one hundred shows per year, Daft Punk DJs live so little that DJ Mag[azine] practically begs people to not vote for Daft Punk in their list of top 100 DJs.   I'm not joking.  Here's some quotes.

From the 2012 list:
"In recent years the Daft duo have done no publically-advertised gigs, no live shows and released only their brooding, Vangelis-inspired soundtrack to Tron Legacy.....It's previous success with game-changing albums such as 'Homework' and the spin-off remixes and reworks that have followed that keep them popping up in this Top 100 DJ poll."

2013:
"If Daft Punk seem like improbable inclusions on this list, that's only because they're not strictly DJs. Extremely sporadic appearances aside, the French duo barely even played a live show this side of 2013...."

2014:
"Brilliant! Daft Punk are in the Top 100... again! And we're still completely befuddled as to why you lot keep voting for them. Because, wait a minute... they don't DJ! Hello?!? At least not on a regular, 'here we are' basis. Maybe they do the odd friend's weddings or make the occasional 'did they or didn't they show up' appearance. But as a rule they're just not regular DJs."

The 2015 list isn't out yet, but I'll be sure to post something when it is.  
 
Also, we can't disregard how genius the robot masks are.  With them, Daft Punk insured they will never be forgotten no matter what they do next.  On the one hand, Infected Mushroom's shirts and jeans are perfect for their image (that of fun-loving, more or less regular guys), and a costume gimmick on their part would be pretentious.  Besides, Daft Punk has already rendered most DJ masks unimpressive by comparison.  Not that Deadmau5 and Mike Candys had any chance impressing anyone with their mediocre attempts.

At the end of the day, we have to give Daft Punk credit.  If someone one thousand years into the future found a picture of each band, all they'll see of IM is a couple of guys.  They'll wonder for a long time about the robot masks.

In any case, it really looks like both bands could learn from the other.  Daft Punk, while producing things that people enjoy, lacks the massive volume and musical background of Infected Mushroom.  Likewise, Mushroom lacks the revelation of music as an art.  While DP takes this artistry to an extreme most bands probably shouldn't, that doesn't mean Mushroom shouldn't try a little harder on that end.  Where Daft Punk succeeds is in identity.  Even when they fail, they tend to do so in a way that makes people remember them.   

On that note, let's get into some unasked for and pretentious advice that will probably never be seen by the people it's intended.  Daft Punk should really consider what they're good at.  So many of their singles have good ideas, but these ideas don't get repeated enough. They don't pick what they're good at and play with those ideas.  I'd suggest they continue with funk and hip hop.  For French guys, they really have good sensibilities for those genres, and their funkier songs tend to be more successful.  There's no reason why they can't continue more in this direction.

Also, they should try for something meditative.  They haven't done much at all in the way of truly relaxing songs (seriously, think about it), and it might be fun if they just did something quiet and unpretentious as Nightvision again.  Actually, another thing they could try is remixing other people's songs.  The three mixes on Musique are quite good, and more performances of this nature could be a lot of fun.  Daft Punk does know how to use samples.

And finally, they should write words as though they're writing pop songs, not house music lyrics.  DP isn't very good at middle ground.  They are better at phrases and avant guarde non-lyrics (Teacher, Technologic, Human After All) or lyrics that would be perfectly acceptable by pop standards (Digital Love, Something About Us, Face to Face, Instant Crush).  What they aren't good at are those transcendental, pseudo-intellectual sounding phrases that are supposed to make the listener feel things.  When DP tries those things, they sound drunk (Touch, Game of Love, Within).  Since DP is clearly capable of writing full songs, they should.  Why not?

If I could meet Infected Mushroom, the first thing I would do (after waking up from faining after direct contact with Erez's pretty eyes) would be to take them by the shoulders and shake vigorously, yelling "YOU ARE NOT EDGY!  YOU ARE NICE ISRAELI BOYS!  CHILL OUT ALREADY!"  Granted, the shaking of them by their shoulders probably isn't the best way to get them to chill, but you know what I mean.  They need to stop it with the whole grisly metal imagery in their music videos, or with trying to be rock stars.  I love Duvdev for being funny, and Eisen for being sweet.  They're at their best when they're happy and having fun, and trying so hard to be edgy takes away from that.

Also, I might suggest they use more hebrew.  If they released an entire album of nothing but Mashina remixes (I have discovered Atid Matok, and it is glorious), I would be happy.  That would probably the number one album I'd ever listen to in my life.  Or if they just write hebrew songs of their own.  Hebrew is gorgeous, and the more they sing it, the happier I get.

Actually, I'd take most any language from the guys.  They did well with the spanish in Becoming Insane.  If for some reason they did korean, I would lose my mind.  Yes, that's a bit of a pipe dream, but hey, let me have fun.  The short of it is that they don't have to stick to english.

When they do lyrics, that is.  I don't want the guys to lose control over their non-lyric work.  In fact, I would love it if they upped the complexity in their music (we'll get to Converting Vegetarians II when we get to it), and tried more weirdness for weirdness' sake.  I'd like fewer rock/metal conventions and more nonsense.  I'm addicted to nonsense.

So y'know what?  I've come to a conclusion.  It runs thusly: I love Infected Mushroom.  I love them when they're being insightful, and when they're being immature.  I love them when they're artsy IDM, and when they're mainstream rock.  I love them when they're serious, and I love them when they cheese.  This is my band, and I like 90% of what they do.  Even the 10% I don't isn't subject to absolute hate.  I listened to The Gathering again, and I appreciate its existence.  It's not great, but a song or two from it is good to listen to every so often to blast conventionality from my brain.

So what that IM has changed over time?  Their albums are like the first five Mega Man soundtracks: each one a different musical concept for a different mood.  Feeling mellow?  Turn on that Mega Man IV.  Feeling happy?  Celebrate with Army of Mushrooms!  Each album exists for a different reason and a different purpose, and I'm happy with them as they are, with an exception here or there.

Infected Mushroom is changing over time, much in the same way any of us change over time.  No personality is static, and if we're always too hardcore or serious all the time, we'll never have fun. IM somehow handles this change over time better than any other band I've known.  Not that I'm the most knowledgeable music critic in the world, but these are songs I'll be listening to for years to come, not gimmicky stuff I'm going to forget in a year or two as I mature.  Like I once told a friend, I only need one Coldplay album.

I started this review series in the effort to compare Infected Mushroom to Daft Punk and really clarify why I feel more negatively about Daft Punk's change than IM's.  There are several reasons for this, and now that I've listened to IM's work to a very detailed degree, I think I understand.  For one thing, The sound philosophy between IM and Daft Punk is clearly different.  Daft Punk's heavy sampling made it more confrontational in sound, whereas the classical background of IM allowed them to transition into different sound forms whenever they wanted.  Pytrance, psytekk, nu metal, rockstep, whatever.

Thus, IM had places to go, while Daft Punk's importance depended a lot on the kind of musical statements it wanted to make.  When I listen to Daft Punk, I feel their messages -- they're trying to say something with most of their songs, even in the ones without words.  One More Time is clearly about partying near an important life transition. Television Rules the Nation is very obvious social commentary.  Something About Us is about love between a starcrossed couple.   Teachers is about their musical inspirations.  Duh.

Despite the lack of lyrics in most of Daft Punk songs, it's not hard to figure out what each song is trying to say.  So when Daft Punk is unable to say specific things in their music, it becomes more difficult for them to produce something that sounds nice. Their ability to do music depends on the message entailed.  Each of their albums is a clear statement about the nature of music for that stage in the Daft Punk duo's lives. 

People calm down as they age from teens and twenties, and learn to accept and understand what's around them.  Thus, it's hard for anyone to continue to be message-based after that point in time, because they're usually too mature to be the "stand at the side of the road with a signpost" metaphor any longer.  Daft Punk grew up, but had no pathway for their music to join them in what they became.  Its reputation is tied into its older songs, and after a wide gap of nothing original between Human After All and the Tron Legacy soundtrack, they've changed without giving themselves or their audience a proper transition.

IM almost never has messages in their music, not even when they have lyrics.  The closest they came was with Send Me an Angel (which perhaps doesn't count because it's a cover) and Smashing the Opponent.  You can't tell what most IM songs are really "about" because they're more about the music than the message.  Even the ones with meaning, such as Saeed, are open to interpretation. Clearly IM is out to have fun and play with sound.  Sounds and samples are their toys, not their words.

IM's transition into today was with experimentation.  Heck, they had a transition.  It's pretty obvious when you listen to their stuff that not only is each album different, but their changes were slow and steady.  There's a clear and obvious difference between each Daft Punk album.  IM's transition isn't as clean cut, and didn't cost them several years of rehashing their originals.  Their music could age and mature along with them.

Another separation between the two is that Infected Mushroom learned about album structure, and seemingly Daft Punk forgot it.  That is, IM's first and third albums lacked flow.  As I've said before, The Gathering is too "up" and BP Empire is too "down."  Most albums from any genre will have ear-catching early tracks, slow down in the middle, and then wrap things up with something catchier. Even if an album doesn't follow this structure, there's a combination of higher and lower energy songs to keep the listeners entertained.

IM learned this quickly enough, and Converting Vegetarians disc 2 and onwards are well structured albums.  Random Access Memories, on the other hand, was one great big glop of smooth, unintellectual, marginal songs, and they all muddled together in a big, pretentious mush.  The only one that didn't have a dragging tempo was their dumb hit, Get Lucky.

Not that I hated most of Random Access Memories.  It just felt like it was giving up: Daft Punk wasn't going to be weird anymore, it was just going to put out mainstream whatevers in the attempt to be important again, with a half hearted message about EDM not being so hard.  Granted, all kinds of djs are saying things about the decline of dance music, so clearly Daft Punk had a point.  I don't think their reaction was the most appropriate, but props to them for giving things consideration.

Infected Mushroom's changes have always (so far as outsiders are able to tell) been from the artists themselves.  If they chose a more "mainstream" sound, it was because they wanted to.  They liked rock, so they added more rock elements.  A new sound popped up, so they wanted to play with it. They liked some restaurants, so they named some songs after them.  I mean, come on, how silly is that?  It's really nice when people are silly.  It's so unpretentious and free.  Never trust anyone too afraid to be silly.

In other words, Infected Mushroom is better than Daft Punk.  Daft Punk is more self-aware, but at the end of the day I am going to listen to Infected Mushroom far more often.  Now, to find a way to make Erez wear flowers in his hair....

See?  Better, right?  ...Yes, I spent the last few minutes pasting flowers on Infected Mushroom.  Shut up.
 

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