Daft Punk

30 albums, 166 tracks

Electronic

Narratives

"Daft Punk"

May 08, 2019

Daft Punk's Discovery Is One Of The Best Cross-Over Albums Ever Released

arnaudmarty
Written by @arnaudmarty / 7 mins read

I was recently sneaking around on the internet, trying to see if Daft Punk were planning any new releases or tours, and I came across several mixed reviews about their sophomore album, Discovery. Even if the album ranks among the best releases of the 2000s, I was quite surprised that it was not warmly welcomed when it was initially released in 2001. Indeed, it's a bit weird when one of your favourite records is described as 'repetitive, dull, tasteless'. But, then I remembered that I had also needed some time to come around to the French duo's music. When I was 12 or 13 maybe, two of my cousins were listening to a tape that included a lot of tracks from Daft Punk's Homework. My parents, unsurprisingly, didn’t understand this music (imagine your parents dancing to “Rollin' & Scratchin'”) - but, at the time I didn’t either. When you're not yet a teenager, you don't really know what a club is, so trying to understand the spirit of rave parties really makes no sense. While my parents don’t like to hear it, Homework received rave reviews and became a defining record not only for the French Touch, but also for the dance music as a whole. Because of this achievement, the pressure and expectations for their second record were sky high, which is probably the reason why the French duo decided to do something quite different with Discovery – When the first single of Discovery, “One More Time”, hit the stores in 2001, I was 15. Some studies say that the music you discover while you're building your own identity and discovering your sexuality will always remain your favourite. I totally agree with that; most of my favourite albums were released at that time. Coming with a brand new sound, “One More Time” became one of their most successful singles, even if some of their initial fans were a bit dubious. Don't tell my parents, but I knew what a club was at that time, and “One More Time” was always the climax of the party.

From The Rave Parties To The Top Of The Mainstream Charts

Unlike most dance releases, Discovery is not simply a compilation of a few bangers and a lot of filler. Discovery is an album, in the truest sense of the word. Some people will tell you that this album makes no sense for starting with a song named “One More Time”, which is actually the last track you would play in a DJ, insofar as it’s lyrics would suggest. However, all you have to do is to watch the accompanying movie, Interstella 5555, to be convinced about the fact that Discovery is more than just a series of unrelated tracks. A four million dollar anime directed by none other than Leiji Matsumoto, the sci-fi movie follows the career and adventures of an interstellar pop band, and doesn’t feature any dialogue. The music from Discovery animates the dramatic narrative instead, and it works wonders. It's not difficult to find amazing visuals in dance music (check The Chemical Brothers' collaborations with Michel Gondry, or Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham's disconcerting output), but a captivating movie like Interstella 5555 was something unprecedented. Moreover, for the first time, Daft Punk unveiled a satirical side, as they commented on the bad sides of the music industry. This cynicism would eventually lead to their third album, Human After All.

Discovery Or Very Disco?

Discovery is also a very good album simply based on the merits of it’s music alone. On Homework, Daft Punk were encapsulating the spirit of Chicago House and rave parties. As the duo explained in an interview, Discovery was conceived as the opposite of their debut album, which you can sense just by looking at its colourful, rainbow-esque artwork. To make it simple, their sophomore album is a meeting point between house, pop and disco-funk. If you are a music connoisseur, it's actually a very exciting game to search for and try to recognize all of the loops and samples that made the album. Nevertheless, only four samples were officially used on the record, as all the others were re-recorded by the duo. Indeed, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo are also musicians in their own rite, who started as an indie rock trio called Darlin', alongside Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix – In contrast to Homework, Discovery also abandons the long, progressive structures of house music (32 beats), as well as the industrial, gritty synth sounds. Instead, they propel their French Touch into pop structures. That's the reason why all of the album’s tracks last less than 4 minutes, apart from “Too Long” which sounds... too long. One of the main principles of pop music is the use of repetitive structures to develop an immediacy and catchiness. If a few tracks like “Da Funk” and “Around The World” were showcasing a pop sensibility on Homework, most of Discovery relies on that. Moreover, Daft Punk insert a good dose of drama in these structures. “One More Time” comes with an almost a capella break and a thrilling build-up, “Aerodynamic” suddenly transforms in the middle of the track. Finally, Daft Punk unveil also a sensitive side: it's impossible not to mention the smooth groove of their romantic ballad “Something About Us” which is definitely a highlight of the album. Yes, robots have feelings too.

Robots Have Feelings Too

Some people will say Discovery was just a logical commercial move, but, the truth is that it was crafted as a conceptual album about childhood. In an interview, Thomas Bangalter stated: “It’s less of a tribute to the music from 1975 to 1985 as an era and more about focusing on the time when we were zero to 10 years old. When you’re a child you don’t judge or analyse music. You just like it because you like it. You’re not concerned with whether it’s cool or not.” I can't agree more with that theory: this is exactly why I love this album so much. The period that they cover corresponds to the golden age of disco. It's actually not very difficult to feel the funky groove of Kool & The Gang, the flamboyant synths of Giorgio Moroder or the festival of vocoder of Herbie Hancock. By the way, have you ever noticed that Discovery can also be read as Very-Disco ? (“Veridis Quo” is also a track from the album) – For all these reasons, Discovery sounded like a revelation to me. I was happy to own my Daft Club card (given with the CD of Discovery) and to be part of their official online fan club. This concept was also pioneering for a dance act: you could have access to exclusive material and be part of an online community. The latter actually gave birth to a cult: even if the robots don't often release a record, their fans are still active, chasing figurines of the duo, or trying to guess when they'll release new music. This is not a simple task: Daft Punk are huge superstars, but they're super secretive at the same time, unlike your traditional pop stars. It was during the creative process of Discovery that Bangalter and De Homem-Christo actually came up with the idea of robot outfits and decided to hide their face - a genius idea, both in terms of privacy and visual identity. Since then, a lot of artists have adopted this faceless style, from Deadmau5 to Sia – When Discovery was first released back in 2001, it was maybe too early to perceive the influence it was going to have on pop and hip-hop cultures. An excellent cross-over tour de force, the album went on to be sampled by the likes of Kanye West, Lil B, Pharrell and Busta Rhymes, to keep the list short. Decades after its release, Discovery is still alive (a dear word for the duo). Some of its anthemic gimmicks became universal (“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”), and, by inspiring a new generation of artists, its creative concept has come full circle.

Mar 06, 2019

How Daft Punk’s Discovery Made Me A Kinder Person Today

camjameson
Written by @camjameson from Extraneous Routes  / 4 mins read
#DaftPunk#Discovery#Dance#Electronic#House#SynthPop

It’s not very often a record comes along that speaks to you in such a way that it completely defines who you become later-on in life, shaping the way you think & influencing your personality as you grow; Sure, everyone will have their favourite albums & artist, ones that remind them of a special time in their formative years or maybe of a certain someone, but truly life-changing works of art are a rare occurrence – For me, that was Daft Punk’s incredible 2001 jamtacular “Discovery,” a record so perfect, so utterly genius that I wouldn’t experience anything as integral to my being until much, much later on in life, affecting every facet of my personality throughout middle- & high-school.

Internet Cafés, Late Night Energy Drinks & Adult Swim

Back in my youth, I was your typical subculture aficionado, engaging in virtually anything you could possibly consider nerdy or geeky at the time; I enjoyed Japanese animation, Punk & Techno music, video games & romantic comedies – I was basically Gerard Way in the beginning of My Chemical Romance’s music video for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).” In eight grade, I would spend every night hitting the internet café until the wee hours of the night playing Counter Strike & listening to Linkin Park AMV’s I downloaded off of Limewire, eventually discovering that all of my ideals were being met on Cartoon Network’s now-famous Adult Swim – then simply called Midnight Run – television block. A special edition music video marathon aired at the end of August 2001, introducing me to the likes of The Gorillaz & their unique animated music world; I thought they were so incredibly unique, mixing Japanese-inspired animation with Punk-adjacent Alternative Rock music, but my mind blew completely open later on the same broadcast when they world premiered four of Daft Punk’s music videos off Discovery, changing my perspective entirely on the artistry you could create with music & animation.

Learning To Love For The First Time

For those who’re unfamiliar, the entirety of Discovery is recreated in animated form within the movie Interstella 5555, each scene of the film comprised of a singular song off the album that progresses the story in some way, all of which is divided into individual music videos for your viewing pleasure – Now, this may seem like a cheap gimmick, but it adds so much depth of character to the electronic compositions Daft Punk created that it actually transports you into the world itself, legendary Space Battleship Yamato animator Leiji Matsumoto breathing such life & beauty into the characters of the story that you find yourself falling in love with their narratives; Whether it be the charming romantic tension & redemption arc in “Digital Love” or the heartbreaking final sacrifice of “Something About Us,” the beauty in which he renders his characters puts a necessary human element into the robotic – albeit incredibly funky – nature of the band’s music – With such a focus on the innocence & purity of love, I was taught to be open with my feelings & proud of my burning passion, falling in love for the first time at the end of that year with someone who shared similar feelings for the euphoric arrangements within the album & bonding over the unmentioned emotions a well-produced melody line can express.

Why I Always Come Back To Discovery For More

Though the aforementioned love inevitably faded away as we grew into our adolescence, the concepts I learned within Discovery always remained. Years would pass, but I’d continue to reference this Daft Punk masterpiece whenever I needed to express humility, compassion, worry, silliness or even rage, as all are present in some form or another across the album; “Veridis Quo” would accompany me on long emotional drives home from an abusive ex’s house, whilst “Short Circuit” would be my go-to dance-battle music when I needed to brighten someone’s mood & have a little fun – You see, there’re thousands of ways you can express yourself through words in music that often removes you from the responsibility of making decisions for yourself, but it’s the feeling of a song that really says the most & Discovery is jam-packed with nothing but pure, exhilarating emotions from start to finish, helping you get the most out of your auditory experience here on planet Earth.

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Biography

"Daft Punk"

Active

    1993 (1993)–present

Label

  • Daft Life
  • Columbia
  • Virgin
  • Soma
  • Walt Disney

About

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo formed in Paris in 1993 by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. They achieved popularity in the late 1990s as part of the French house movement, and had success in the years following, combining elements of house music with funk, techno, disco, rock, and synthpop. They have worn ornate helmets and gloves to assume robot personas in most public appearances since 1999 and rarely grant interviews or appear on television. The duo were managed from 1996 to 2008 by Pedro Winter (also known as Busy P), the head of Ed Banger Records.
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