Solid Gold: How Daft Punk's 'Discovery' reshaped dance music for the digital age

It shouldn’t be an excessive amount of of an exaggeration to say that dance music entered a courageous new world on February 26, 2001, when Daft Punk launched their second album. ‘Discovery’ is among the most vital dance music releases of this, or any period; a report that anticipated the digital music age, the pivotal significance of video content material and the expansion of the net fan membership; a report that appeared like nothing else and but helped to usher in each EDM and the following comfortable rock growth. It’s the sort of report that right this moment, 17 years on, makes you surprise, ‘How did they know?’

To admire ‘Discovery’, it’s value rewinding to November 2000 when Daft Punk launched ‘One More Time’, the primary new music from the duo in two years, and the general public’s first glimpse of their second album. Back then, Daft Punk weren’t the dance demigods they’re now. Rather, they have been two nerdish guys from Paris with a superb however largely underground album to their title. They have been common, positive, however on the stage of two,00Zero-capacity venues somewhat than competition headliners. And ‘One More Time’, although considered one of their greatest hits, divided their followers. Some individuals thought it was a bit tacky. Others have been postpone by the then-novelty auto tune impact, which nonetheless introduced up pictures of Cher and Eiffel 65 in 2000.
When ‘Discovery’ dropped three months later, many listeners have been perplexed. Where have been the disco samples and difficult home beats of the band’s debut album ‘Homework’? Where was the techno grit of tracks like ‘Rollin’ And Scratchin’’? And what the hell was with all of the heavy metallic guitar tapping that invaded monitor two, ‘Aerodynamic’, like a horde of metallurgic Vikings?

Solid Gold: How Daft Punk's 'Discovery' reshaped dance music for the digital age

‘Discovery’, like many really nice albums, was arduous to grasp at first. It moved on the Daft Punk sound in ways in which initially sounded preposterous, bringing guitar licks, yacht rock, gilded vocal results, baroque pop, dissolving electro beats and — will somebody consider the kids? — Barry Manilow samples to a world that was unprepared for his or her influence. The first time many followers heard ‘Discovery’, they have been maybe extra bemused than impressed, not sure in the event that they even understood, not to mention favored, the brand new course that the band was entering into.
But slowly, ‘Discovery’ began to develop in recognition. Somehow, this monolithic combination of arduous rock guitars and comfortable vocal results, of straightforward music buildings and elaborate manufacturing methods, of vivid disco drums and moody keyboard noodling, began to cohere into one thing that wasn’t simply higher than Daft Punk’s debut album, it was on a special scale of inspiration, the sort of ludicrously fluent leap of creativeness that separates the great from the really impressed.
What’s extra, ‘Discovery’ got here with melodies that sounded genuinely world beating, from the ecstatic romantic reverie of ‘Digital Love’ to the rained-out heartbreak of ‘Something About Us’. These have been melodies so robust that they could possibly be chopped up, packaged and despatched out to work with completely completely different songs, as DJ Mag noticed on the band’s all-conquering Alive 2006 – 2007 tour, the place ‘Discovery’ offered the highlights of a set that spat the band’s catalogue again in fascinating new juxtapositions.

Evidently, this author wasn’t the one one being attentive to ‘Discovery’. For a time, comfortable rock samples grew to become commonplace in dance music, imbuing songs corresponding to Armand van Helden’s ‘My My My’ (which samples rocker Gary Wright’s ‘Comin’ Apart’) and Eric Prydz’s ‘Call On Me’ (based mostly on Steve Winwood’s 1982 MOR traditional ‘Valerie’) with slightly of ‘Discovery’s hard-polished soul. In 2007, Kanye West used ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’s world-beating robotic hook on ‘Stronger’, a monitor that topped the US charts and launched digital results to business hip-hop, laying the muse for the EDM growth. By the tip of the 2010s, ‘Discovery’, which initially drew confusion from many journalists, was often putting in better of the last decade lists. In 2018, its status is untouchable.
With this divine musical inspiration on present, it may appear superfluous to speak in regards to the exercise that surrounded ‘Discovery’’s launch. And but the album’s kind is indelibly associated to its operate, the glistening futurism of ‘Discovery’s music going hand in hand with the visionary method during which it was launched. Initial copies of the album got here with plastic playing cards that gave membership to the Daft Club – an internet fan membership within the dial-up age – the place followers might check their creaking web connections by downloading unique materials from the band, an concept that was as audacious because it was in the end premature. ‘Discovery’ was additionally made into an album-length movie, ‘Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem’, which plotted the story of an interstellar pop band across the album’s 14 tracks, giving every music its personal visible accompaniment. That doesn’t sound too outstanding now, however ‘Interstella 5555’ was launched in 2003, some two years earlier than YouTube was born, and a superb decade earlier than its recognition as a platform for music would make it compulsory for any music launched to have at the very least some type of video accompaniment.

Can it actually be coincidence music entitled ‘Too Long’ is, in reality, too lengthy? 

Then there was Daft Punk themselves. In the run as much as ‘Discovery’’s launch, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo took on the guise of robots, pretending that the flesh and blood members of Daft Punk had been injured in a studio accident. At the time it appeared barely ridiculous, a enjoyable trick that may be jettisoned when the band’s subsequent album cycle got here round. Instead, it proved a transfer of lasting genius, offering the duo with one of many strongest visible identities in dance music whereas defending Bangalter and de Homem-Christo from the ravages of fame, because the social media age stood able to pounce. Daft Punk weren’t the primary band to cover their faces behind masks, in fact. But should you think about for a minute that Deadmau5 et al have been impressed by punk oddballs The Residents, then your circuits might have a flash cooling.
For all this, ‘Discovery’ isn’t an ideal album. The order of the album’s songs doesn’t fairly work, and a few tracks drag on slightly. But this solely appears to extend the general fascination for ‘Discovery’. These imperfections really feel like the issues intentionally woven right into a Persian rug, a reminder that there’s imperfect human endeavor behind this report somewhat than pure robotic perfection. Can it actually be coincidence music entitled ‘Too Long’ is, in reality, too lengthy? And why would you begin ‘Discovery’ with ‘One More Time’, the sort of music destined to be positioned on the finish of an album to ship the listener again to the start?

This could also be a flight of fancy too far. But you don’t want outlandish conspiracy theories to understand an album that was pivotal for dance music and, certainly, for music as a complete. Put it this fashion: you possibly can think about a musical world the place Daft Punk by no means made ‘Homework’, ‘Human After All’ and ‘Random Access Memories’. It could be sadder for his or her absence however not radically completely different. But with out the affect of ‘Discovery’, the place on earth would we be? What would have change into of yacht rock? Would auto-tune nonetheless be a factor? Would Kanye West have found digital music? Would the ‘00s EDM growth have occurred? Would Eric Prydz and Deadmau5 be stars? Would Daft Punk even exist? Essential doesn’t even come near describing this heart-breaking, visionary album.