Daft Punk was a DJ duo who made a name for themselves based on anonymity through their robot-esque personas and their masterful use of sampling within the electronic music genre. Throughout their career, Daft Punk have pushed the envelope of funk, disco, pop and dance music across the board.
Now, with their recent and saddening break up, fans have taken to reminiscing on the songs and albums that put them on the map. For many fans however, there is one record that is a staunch stand out from the rest.
By Zane Templeton
“Discovery” is an album that was produced by Daft Punk, a duo made up of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, at the turn of the 21st century, and released on March 13, 2001. The album incorporates a multitude of incredibly reimagined samples of 70s and 80s songs, mixed with instrumentation the duo provides through different instruments and technology at their disposal.
The record kicks off with the song “One More Time,” which has since become a classic party starter anthem. Daft Punk brings on the singer Romanthony to provide vocals, while the duo craft an infectious beat using a mix of horns, bass and drums, all altered to sound more electronic. It’s theorized that Daft Punk sampled Eddie Johns’ “More Spell On You” for this endeavor, but Bangalter denied this.
The next stand out track is “Digital Love,” which has Daft Punk show a more lyrical side, lamenting about love in their classic robotic-toned vocals. The song explores the idea of being in love with someone, but them not loving you back.
Despite this sad theme, the instrumentation remains incredibly funky, using a sample from George Duke’s “I Love You More,” which culminates in a great guitar solo in the second half. The guitar solo is incredibly manipulated and distorted to sound more electronic, fitting in perfectly with the rest of the song.
In a double whammy, the track right after is the universally loved and well-known, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” While the production is of course masterful and continues the energetic vibe of the whole record, by far the most impressive and interesting component is the way the lyrics and production continue to build up. With each cycle of lyrics, the vocals get faster and the production evolves in new and innovative ways.
Following these hard-hitting party classics that are front-loading this record, the album mellows out slightly after the almost-interlude feeling song, “Nightvision,” with songs like “Something About Us” and “Veridis Quo,” turning down the energetic feeling for smoother, synth-funk tracks.
With that being said however, there are still plenty of fast paced dance songs that belong on everyone’s party playlist. Two of my personal favorites are the short, synth-heavy “Short Circuit,” and “Face to Face,” another song remarking on the intricacies of love and relationships.
While every song sounds unique, they come together to form a very cohesive listening experience. With that being said, I take gripe with “Nightvision” being too short and feeling unneeded. While “Nightvision” does technically set up a more reserved part of the album, I can’t help but feel its inclusion is unnecessary to the rest of the tracklist. It’s not unwelcome, just gratuitous.
My second small complaint I have is that, ironically, the final track “Too Long” is too long. Given the repetitive nature of Daft Punk’s production and lyrics on many songs, it’s hard to see a song as long as this one going over well. At ten minutes, it is by far the longest track, and it could easily be cut by four minutes and achieve the same effect.
After relistening to “Discovery” multiple times since Daft Punk’s break up, I can safely say it is my favorite, and easily their best album. “Discovery” created such a significant influence on music to come in the 21st century, and I don’t think it would be a large reach to say that their creative use of sampling inspired the wide use of samples in mainstream music today.
Though some of the lyrics take a sadder look at the concept of love, most of the time you will be too busy grooving and/or dancing to the songs to even notice.
If you have not heard this album, I strongly recommend a listen. If you have already heard this album, and love it as much as I do, I would recommend you to watch the anime movie “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem,” that Daft Punk put out two years after this album was released, using “Discovery” as the soundtrack. It is essentially an hour-long music video for this album, and creates a whole new experience by adding visuals to the already great audio.