Daft Punk – Alive 2007

daftpunkalive2007-thumb.jpgRemember that post I did a while ago about Daft Punk’s incredible concert at the L.A. Sports Arena? This is the review of the live album for that tour, not the actual experience of the concert. If you are a dedicated Daft Punk fan, I’ll try to have some info in here that interests you, but with this review I’m looking more to those who don’t “get” Daft Punk or what it (as a movement) has come to encompass. Let’s get the obvious points out of the way. 1) Anything Daft Punk does right now blows my mind. 2) This album is the epitome of an electronic live album. Here’s why:

  1. Robot Rock / Oh Yeah: We begin with the chopped words “Human Robot” being spoken very slowly. The pace picks up, high hats are forging on, and bit by bit the beat comes in to play. After 2:20 of intro, Robot Rock comes in full force. This track off of Human After All, which has had its fair share of plays, starts the record off nice and hard. It’s repetitious, but rough enough so that we know that Alive 2007 definitely isn’t Discovery 2. As Robot Rock gets split and mangled, Oh Yeah, one of the straightforward Homework tracks, replaces the beat. We continue a bit to establish that bass will not be lacking here, and move on.
  2. Touch It / Technologic: In comes the sample of Technologic used by Busta Rhymes mixed with a modified Robot Rock beat. Please, try not to get overwhelmed by the variety of beats layered behind the vocals here. After a bit of straight Touch It is finished playing and our two robots kill every sample used, the true Technologic vocal comes in to speak every line of the intro. Some guitar sample is played with it, and after a whole minute without bass, Technologic’s trudging beat blasts out to keep the heads bobbing. Again, more shredding of sounds is done with Ableton Live and the other hardware located in the most elusive of pyramids.
  3. Television Rules the Nation / Crescendolls: The first empty second shows its face, but the vocoded line of “Televisionnn… Rules the Nationnn…” quickly covers that up and continues the Human After All laden first tracks. But then we are so rudely tempted with the lines of “Around the World,” and my favorite synth line ever gets its play time. This song really is better at a fast tempo. The song cuts straight into Crescendolls, which plays for a bit. Crescendolls is a party-ready song to begin with, but when they bring back Television, wow. The high-energy of Crescendolls and the industrial trudge of Television is insane to say the least.
  4. Too Long / Steam Machine: Time to come down. Television/Crescendolls was fun, but that energy can’t last too long. This song is an excellent example of how Daft Punk isn’t out to keep the energy at 10 all night; they recognize that by bringing it in waves, those highs are so much better when they hit. Regardless, this is a nice revamp of Steam Machine, which was one of the songs on Human After All that got too repetitive. Not so here. This song serves its function: to bring the energy down & give everyone a breather.
  5. Around the World / Harder Better Faster Stronger: Your breather is over, brace yourself. As you can hear, when the bass-line of Around the World comes in, it’s obvious that you’re in for a treat. As Daft Punk’s most singable song plays, another all-time classic works itself in. If you want to chant along, please feel free. These two songs are fan favorites for a reason, and when they are pumping at the same time, the energy is back up at 10. Throughout the song, never do these two monsters seem to be at each other’s throats. It’s as if they were meant to be torn apart and squashed together from their creation.
  6. Burnin’ / Too Long: Coming back down, the raw originality of Burnin’ shines. Straight from Homework, this 10 year-old song hasn’t aged a day. A fair amount of effects are thrown into the mix so as not to get repetitive. For the second and final time, Too Long surfaces for its showcase. It got 10 minutes on Discovery, why not another 5 here? As the song comes to a close, it is clear that Part I is finished.
  7. Face To Face / Short Circuit: The interlude between acts begins. Don’t worry, the energy doesn’t get too high here. To me, this song shows off Daft Punk’s ability to perfectly re-create their songs to form new entities that stand on their own. As if the original beat on Face to Face wasn’t sweat enough, Harder Better Faster Stronger is no longer a vocal section, it replaces the hodgepodge first beat. Ending this middle-ground, Short Circuit and then silence.
  8. One More Time / Aerodynamic: Hear those bells? Know what they mean? If not, just grab a hold of your seat, there isn’t much of a break until the end. As the One More Time synth plays sans bass, you can hear the crowd wanting to sing along before the vocals come in. 1/2 of a bass, and then it’s in full force. A classic indeed. Just sing with the thousands of fans with Daft Punk’s most famous song. A third of the way through comes Aerodynamic’s guitar solo and the following beat. Just as was done with Television/Crescendolls, two songs become one. This is an energy = 11 moment, revel in it. This song is the entire album wrapped into one: classics, rises, falls, loud crowds, etc…
  9. Aerodynamic Beats / Forget About the World: Slowing down a bit, but not too much, Daft Punk kinda flaunts an old mix here. It has a great synth that sweeps in and out that meshes with Brainwasher’s vocals near the end.
  10. Prime Time of Your Life / Brainwasher / Rollin’ and Scratchin’ / Alive: 4 in 1, that’s what you get here. Prime Time’s vocals are nice, but are pumped up a notch when Rollin’ and Scratchin’s single drum hit accompanies it. Both old and new are played here. One observation of this track is how well Human After All combines with Homework. For as much slack as Human has received, when played with Homework, they really do work well.
  11. Da Funk / Daftendirekt: Part III (of III). Da Funk has my second favorite synth in it. It bounces and stays consistent with its bitter sting throughout. As Daftendirekt follows and mixes with Da Funk the effects that can be applied live are shows off here. Stutters, EQs, and the like are all used here, making for a song that differs greatly from the original two from Homework. They don’t carry the same 90s French Touch sound that their originals do, they are brought into the 21st century with style and class.
  12. Superheroes / Human After All / Rock’n Roll: To be blunt, this song is all rise. But what else could you ask for from a finale? It begins with Superheroes’ simple bass and the looped vocal comes in gradually as the original does. And then, what’s that? Oh, that’s the best beat of Human After All. That beat hits SO hard. How a house track is made into a fist-pumper escapes me. This song was always meant to be a finale song. With lyrics that say, “We are human, after all. Thanks for comin’, after all,” it could be nothing else. Pitches are raised, volume is maxed out, and in the end, the beat is dropped for the final “After All.” Fitting. The crowd roars, and for good reason. They know that an encore is coming up.
  13. Encore: Human After All / Together / One More Time / Music Sounds Better With You: So if you were lucky enough (like myself) to get the limited edition version of Alive 2007, you know what this track is. If you were cheap or couldn’t find the limited edition, go and download this song. It’s worth it. Going back to basics, “Human” is repeated many times until the “Time” sample from Para One’s remix of Prime Time After All at 2:15 brings the song into swing. The beat continues and eventually “Together” is brought in. The song falls down repeatedly as the second part begins. And we come to the rise. You can hear it; the hi-hats are increasing. Now it’s all or nothing, and the crowd roars. Why? Because the red suits just lit up, and it’s the most amazing thing that they’ve ever seen. But the song continues with One More Time accompanying this mix of old/new hits and old side-projects. I can’t really say enough about this song, it completely blows me away. 10 minutes for a single-song encore is amazing. The show is over, your mind has been blown.

I hope you have enjoyed my explanation/review of each track. If you agree or disagree with any of my points, feel free to comment!

I Am Legend, or at least a movie

I Am Legend ThumbNow, I don’t want to knock Will Smith, being the sole actor (for the majority of the time) in any movie has to be incredibly difficult, but the movie didn’t rise to the occasion. I Am Legend builds on the premise set forth by Richard Matheson’s short story that in our efforts to cure cancer, a virus has hijacked our bodies killing 95% of the population with around 1% of us being immune. The other 4% turns into a kind of modified vampire that burns from UV exposure and lives in “hives”.

Will Smith aka Dr. Robert Neville is the only man left and for the past 3 years, he has been working to find a cure to the infection by testing the infected animals and humans. Along with his dog Sammy(?), which is immune to the airborne virus, but not to the physical transference of it, we see Neville in his attempts to fix all of this. While the movie provides plenty individual conflicts in the form of Neville tricking the infected, the infected tricking Neville, and the madness involved with that, the end really doesn’t add up.

If you have heard anyone say that this movie was scary, don’t doubt them. It’s not the Hannibal/realistic/keep-you-up-at-night scary, it’s just the jumpiest movie I’ve seen. One thing that could have been done to make it worse? Have the infected be real. The CG looks amazing, but it falls into the Uncanny Valley where it is almost real, but some tiny discrepancies add up and make the models look horrible.

My last complaint: what was up with the end? I haven’t read the short story, but I’ve heard that the end of the movie isn’t anything like the story. Just as it all comes to a point in the final action scene, it’s over. One final scene of pretty Vermont in the fall and we’re done. Unless they are planning a sequel, which they aren’t, so much more could have happened. I feel that more development or closure is necessary. It ended like 28 Days Later, and as anyone who knows me can attest, I hold that to be the worst possible ending to an amazing zombie film not unlike I Am Legend.

On a positive note, I really enjoyed how the movie was put together with the information of how the infection came about being woven into Neville’s dreams. It doesn’t come across as being cliche at all. It’s a nice change to the chronological order of events that is usually used.

I Am Legend is interesting going in, but nothing comes out of it. This movie has broken many sales records for December, proof that the great trailers paid off. I just don’t feel that any momentum will (or should) be kept.