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Random Access Emotions: Frequency Domain Expands

An interlude about Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

Travelling to my in-laws’ last weekend, still buzzing slightly from inadvertently having driven at 110MPH when my MP3 player proffered Debaser, I switched to my current album of the moment, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Before long, my girlfriend – very often an opposite to me in terms of music tastes – asserted that she didn’t really like the record, claiming its beyond-polished production, abstracted and cyclic lyrics and propensity for vocoded vocals robbed of it emotional impact. Startled, for I was at that very moment deep in the midst of a highly emotional response to the strutting disco breakdown in the middle of track six (and my favourite), the undulating, unpredictable, bittersweet, all-music-at-once Touch, I briefly struggled for words.
Eventually, in some distress, I managed to offer that the multi-layered electronica and counter-intuitively switching instrumentation created ‘a sort of soaring sensation’ in me, of the kind I experienced in the days when I would find myself in a club at silly o’clock, inexpertly but helplessly throwing myself about to whatever was playing, a delirious slave to the rhythm.

I was troubled that I couldn’t better explain what the right music, including most of the, to me, highly emotive Random Access Memories, did to me, and how surprised I was that it wouldn’t affect someone else similarly. I should have had at least some words for it. Some writer, huh? Turned out that where we’re going, we don’t need words. Currently free, generative music game Frequency Domain has already said everything I needed to say about Touch.

Yes. Soaring. Every regret and every hope.

Nathan already posted about Audiosurf-without-the-match-3-thing-or-indeed-the-track music game experiment Frequency Domain earlier this month, but the trailer he posted then (repeated above), naughtily featuring impossible digital landscapes created in response to the reflective epic that is Touch, also inspired great sadness as the provided build of the game did not include or properly support that, or any of Random Access Memories. The latest public build of the game, in addition to the rather important new feature of being able to load any MP3 file, now includes special parameters for several Daft Punk files, which enables you to see what dev Sagar Patel specifically designed for those songs, rather than just the random levels. Because, unlike AudioSurf, the intent of Frequency Domain is much more about crafting the best experience for beloved music, both on the dev’s part and ultimately by players too.

The game’s trying out a new look too, as demonstrated in accompaniment to another of Random Access Memories’ highlights, Contact:

Didn’t find that quite as effective as the Touch one, but I do like the Ikaruga effect.

Patel describes v0.5, available now, as:

“A massive update. I’ve basically got the “Play Create Share” loop implemented. This means:

– You can load any song you want (currently only supporting mp3 files)
– You can edit/customize the track using the in-game editor
– You can save/load these customized parameters (exported as a tiny .txt file)”

Here’s another vid, of the editor in action:

And finally, because if I’m posting tracks from Random Access Memories I couldn’t not include this one, here’s an earlier build playing Giorgio By Moroder (which I like to call ‘A Brief History Of Pop Music Happening Simultaneously’):

But is it a game? Oh, piss off.

A coda about Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. If you’re going to listen to it, please do it with at least reasonable speakers or headphones, and not with low bitrate files. Honestly, I don’t want to sound like a Q reader, but it’s very much an album about sounds and if you’re playing it on kit that can’t really replicate those sounds, you can’t tell what the record’s trying to do.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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