A similar approach to arrangement is employed with very different end results throughout Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The album was promoted with a series of interviews in which the duo and their collaborators extolled the virtues of ‘real instruments’, vintage recording hardware and old-school production values.
If we take, for example, ‘Get Lucky’, elements of that vintage disco aesthetic are prominent throughout, right down to Nile Rodgers on guitar:
However, that only tells half the story. The waveform display reveals a mix far less dense than the Skrillex example earlier, but one that has still been been limited during mixing or mastering:
In fact, we can see by using a True Peak detector that the mix is still pretty hot even by contemporary standards. It’s theoretically going over 0 dBFS, and the average level is only 6.5 dB below peak. This is still a very modern master:
The neatly compartmentalised arrangement of instruments and sounds across the frequency range means that ‘Get Lucky’ achieves the rare feat of combining dynamics with loudness. Despite the frequent abuse of brickwall limiting, it’s a worthwhile reminder that loudness and dynamics aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.