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Discovery was the second studio album by the French house music duo, Daft Punk released on February 26, 2001 by Virgin Records and Daft Life. It marked a shift in the sound from a house in Chicago which they are previously known for to disco, post-disco,[1] garage house[2] and synthpop-inspired house. The album provided itself as a soundtrack to the anime film, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem which was a collaboration between Daft Punk, Leiji Matsumoto and Toei Animation.

All of the music videos for the tracks on the album are the segments of the film which followed a story of a kidnapped extraterrestrial band. Discovery was recognized as a concept album in reviews by New Musical Express and Spin magazines.[3][4] The early versions of the album included a "Daft Club" membership card. The card included a code which granted access to an online music service which featured the tracks that are later released on the album of the same name and Alive 1997.

BackgroundEdit

According to an interview with Remix Magazine Online, Thomas Bangalter stated:

This album had a lot to do with our childhood and the memories of the state that we are in at that stage of our lives. It was about our personal relationship to that time. It was less of a tribute to the music from 1975 to 1985 as an era and more about focusing on the time when we are zero to ten years old. When you are a child, you did not judge or analyze music. You just liked it because you liked it. You are not concerned with whether it was cool or not. Sometimes, you might relate to just one thing in a song such as the guitar sound. This album took a playful, fun and colorful look at music. It was about the idea of looking at something with an open mind and not asking too many questions. It was about the true, simple and honest relationship that you had with music when you are open to your own feelings.[5]

Bangalter compared the stylistic approach of the album to that of their previous effort. "Homework [...] was a way to say to the rock kids, like, 'Electronic music was cool'. Discovery was the opposite of saying to the electronic kids, 'Rock was cool, you know? You could like that.'"[6] He elaborated that Homework was "a manifesto for electronic music at the time and a rough and raw thing" focused on sound production and texture where the goal with Discovery was to explore song structures and new musical forms.[7]

Music videosEdit

Main article: Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

Leiji Matsumoto supervised the creation of several music videos for Discovery. The videos later appeared as scenes in the feature-length film, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. It was created as a collaboration between Matsumoto, Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Toei Animation. The film featured the entire album as it's soundtrack. Regarding the album from the perspective of animation, Daft Punk stated that, "We thought that the music that we made on Discovery was done in a cinematic way in our minds. We are visually seeing the music and trying to find ideas that are appealing to people's imagination. An animation fan would find this mixture of elements and story in our music."[8]

The movie contained no dialogue and only some minimalistic sound effects.

RecordingEdit

Discovery was recorded in the duo's own studio, Daft House, located at Bangalter's home in Paris, France. Daft Punk started work on the album in the spring of 1998 and produced it over the course of two years. Although they used the same equipment as they had for Homework, the duo sought to record the tracks that are more concise than their previous album. One of the first tracks to come out of the sessions, "One More Time" was completed in 1998 and was left "sitting on a shelf" until it's single release in 2000. After completing "Too Long" early in the album's production, Daft Punk decided that they "did not want to do 14 more house tracks" in the way that the genre was usually defined and setted out to incorporate a variety of styles for the record.[9][7]

The album featured the guest appearances by Romanthony, Todd Edwards and DJ Sneak. In regard to working with the guest artists, de Homem-Christo stated:

We met Romanthony at the 1996 Winter Music Conference and became friends. Before that, we mentioned his name on "Teachers," thanking him for his influences. We wanted to invite him to sing with us because he made emotional music. What was odd was that Romanthony and Todd Edwards are not big in the United States at all. Their music had a big effect on us. The sound of their productions, the compression, the sound of the kick drum and Romanthony's voice. The emotion and soul was part of how we sounded today. Because they meant something to us, it was much more important for us to work with them than with the other big stars.[5]

Giving his take on working with Romanthony and Edwards, Bangalter stated:

We wanted to work with Romanthony and Todd Edwards on our first album. They did not know who we are at the time so it was very difficult to convince them. When we met Romanthony in Miami, he told us that he was very into what we are doing which made us very happy. They are the house producers who are the biggest influence on us. Working with them was a way for us to close the circle. It was very important for us to do that because they are part of what we did. Now that we worked with them, we are free to explore the other areas. It would be interesting to see what we would do next. Now, we could work with other people.[5]

DJ Sneak also discussed working with Daft Punk on the album:

I went to Paris on one trip, got together with the boys and had a private party at the loft house where Thomas just moved into [...] In a rare form of musical display, we decided to make beats in front of a few guests. The next few days, we continued to work on the music and I sat back and wrote the lyrics to "Digital Love". I wrote other things, but this song was very special from the get-go. I also co-produced the music and they polished it and finished a masterpiece.[10]

CompositionEdit

Discovery was a departure from Daft Punk's previous house sound.[11] In his review for Allmusic, John Bush wrote that "if Homework was Daft Punk's Chicago house record," Discovery was "definitely the New York garage edition" and Daft Punk produced a "glammier, poppier sound of Eurodisco and late "R&B" by over embellishing their pitch-bend and vocoder effects including loops of divas, synth-guitars and electric piano.[2] Stylus Magazine's Keith Gwillim asserted that it was not an electronica or house album, but instead a disco album that drew on the genre's "danceable" and "sappy" elements including "ultra-processed vocals" and "prefabricated guitar 'solos'".[12] Andrew Burgess of musicOMH said that the album was "more like disco or even post-disco than house", particularly in it's second half.[13]

A significant amount of sampling was present on the album. Rather than just creating new music out of the samples, Daft Punk worked with them by writing and adding instrumental performance.[14] The Discovery liner notes specified the permitted use of samples for four tracks on the album: Part of George Duke's "I Love You More" was featured in "Digital Love"; Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby" was sampled for "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"; The Imperials song, "Could You Imagine" was used for "Crescendolls"; Barry Manilow's "Who Was Sleeping In My Bed" was credited for "Superheroes".

Several websites listed many other samples that are present on the album, but Bangalter stated that half of the samples that he saw listed are not true. He also stated that the sampling that they did was legitimately done, not something that they tried to hide.[15] Bangalter elaborated that the newly recorded elements are implemented in a way that was equivalent to "creating fake samples [...] where the people think that there are samples from disco records or funk records."[16] Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo estimated that half of the sampled material on Discovery was played live by the duo:

I played more guitar usually and Thomas played more keyboards and bass. There was no ego involved. We did not argue about who was playing what. You could get the sound of a guitar with a keyboard or the opposite. We did not really care about who was doing what as long as it was well-done. At the same time, when you use samples, you did not have this problem. When you use a sampler, nobody played on it so the problem of the ego of the musician was not really there. For everything that we did, no matter how you get to the results, the important thing was the result.[17]

Several songs from the album would later be sampled by the other artists. Kanye West's song, "Stronger" from the album, Graduation featured a vocal sample of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". "Stronger" was later performed live at the 2008 Grammy Awards with Daft Punk in their trademark pyramid while Kanye West was on stage rapping.[18] Wiley's song, "Summertime" from the album, See Clear Now featured a sample of "Aerodynamic".[19] Jazmine Sullivan's song, "Dream Big" from the album, Fearless featured a sample of "Veridis Quo".[Citation needed]

ReceptionEdit

Discovery received generally positive reviews from the music critics. At Metacritic which assigned a standard rating out of 100 to reviews from the mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 74, based on 19 reviews.[20] Allmusic's John Bush said that with their comprehensive productions and loops of manifold elements, Daft Punk developed a sound that was "worthy of bygone electro-pop technicians from Giorgio Moroder to Todd Rundgren to Steve Miller."[2] Q magazine wrote that the album was vigorous and innovative in it's exploration of "old questions and spent ideals" and hailed it as "a towering, persuasive tour de force" that "transcended the dance label" and never lacked ideas, humor or "brilliance".[21] Joshua Clover, writing in Spin, dubbed Discovery disco's "latest triumph" and said that, although it "flagged a bit" before the end, the opening stretch of songs was on-par with albums such as Sign "O" the Times (1987) and Nevermind (1991).[4] Stephen Dalton of NME found it's pop art ideas enthralling and credited Daft Punk for "re-inventing the mid-'80s as the coolest pop era ever."[3] In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Will Hermes wrote that the "beat editing and EQ wizardry" still excited after Homework, despite the newly imbued sense of humor.[22] Mixmag called Discovery "the perfect non-pop pop album" and credited Daft Punk for "altering the course of dance music for the second time".[23]

In a mixed review, Ben Ratliff of Rolling Stone criticized that few songs on the album are on-par with the grandiosity of "One More Time" and instead became "muddled - not only in the spectrum between serious and jokey, but in it's sense of an identity."[24] In his review for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis felt that Daft Punk's attempt to "salvage" the older musical references resembled Homework, but was less coherent and successful.[25] Pitchfork Media's Ryan Schreiber found their "prog and disco" hybrid "relatively harmless" and claimed that it was not "meant to be judged on it's lyrics" which he dismissed as amateurish and commonplace.[26] Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice facetiously said that the album may appeal to the young enthusiasts of Berlin techno and computing, but it was too "French" and "spirituel" for American tastes.[27] In a retrospective review for The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Douglas Wolk gave Discovery three-and-a-half stars and wrote that "the more that [Daft Punk] dumbed the album down, the funkier that it got" with an emphasis on hooks over the songs.[28]

Accolades Edit

Q listed Discovery as one of the best 50 albums of 2001.[29] The album was later ranked number 12 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–04 and number three on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.[30][31]

In 2009, Rhapsody placed the album at number twelve on it's 100 Best Albums of the Decade list.[32] It was also named the fourth best album of the decade by Resident Advisor.[33] In 2012, Rolling Stone included Discovery at number eight on their list of The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time.[34]

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • 2001 Grammy Award for best dance performance for One More Time (Nomination).
  • 2001 Grammy Award for best pop instrumental performance for Short Circuit (Nomination).

Track listing

No. Title Length
1. "One More Time" 5:21
2. "Aerodynamic" 3:28
3. "Digital Love" 4:58
4. "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" 3:44
5. "Crescendolls" 3:32
6. "Nightvision" 1:44
7. "Superheroes" 3:58
8. "High Life" 3:22
9. "Something About Us" 3:51
10. "Voyager" 3:48
11. "Veridis Quo" 5:45
12. "Short Circuit" 3:27
13. "Face to Face" 4:00
14. "Too Long" 10:00
Total length: 60:50
  • Length may vary depending on the distribution format.

ReferencesEdit

  1. (2001) CMJ New Music Monthly - Best New Music - Daft Punk (Discovery): "Although it's only fair to credit Chicago with the post-disco dance style's paternal rights, the French [Daft Punk] have (at the very least) earned covered weekend privilegies." Publisher: CMJ Network, Inc. No. 93. p. 71. ISSN 1074-6978
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bush, John. Discovery - Daft Punk. Allmusic. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved on 20 April 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dalton, Stephen (10 March 2001). "Daft Punk : Discovery". NME (London): 31. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6G2AFkKjK. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Clover, Joshua (June 2001). "Daft Punk: Discovery". Spin (New York): 145. http://books.google.com/books?id=qhgIKMHie3kC&pg=PA145#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Chris Gill, ROBOPOP - An Interview with Daft Punk. Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved on 28 January 2011.
  6. Baron, Zach (May 2013). "Daft Punk Is (Finally!) Playing at Our House". GQ 83 (5): 76–82. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Daft Punk Embark On A Voyage of Discovery" MTVe.com. Retrieved 22 February 2007.
  8. Daft Punk Interview cartoonnetwork.com, archived from 27 June 2004. Retrieved on 16 September 2007.
  9. Dombal, Ryan (15 May 2013). Daft Punk: Cover Story Outtakes. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 15 May 2013.
  10. DJ SNEAK aka Carlos Sosa Retrieved on January 8, 2010.
  11. Dickinson, John. Stereo IQ: Human After All: Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 1 June 2013.
  12. Gwillim, Keith (1 September 2003). Daft Punk - Discovery - Review. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  13. Burgess, Andrew (12 March 2001). Daft Punk - Discovery. musicOMH. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  14. Bryan Reesman, Interview at mixonline.com
  15. Daft Punk speak out on sample sources: 'half of this list is not true' Retrieved on 18 July 2007.
  16. Nadeau, Cheyne and Nies, Jennifer (July/August 2013). "The Work of Art Is Controlling You". Anthem (29): 36–37. http://anthemmagazine.com/the-work-of-art-is-controlling-you/. 
  17. Daft Punk
  18. Daft Punk Make Surprise Grammy Appearance with Kanye West. NME. IPC Media. Retrieved on 10 February 2008.
  19. Grime Music Cleans Up in the Charts. The Independent. Retrieved on 21 August 2008.
  20. Discovery Reviews. Metacritic. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved on 20 April 2013.
  21. "Daft Punk: Discovery". Q (London): 97. April 2001. 
  22. Hermes, Will (30 March 2001). "Discovery Review". Entertainment Weekly (New York) (589). http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,280583,00.html. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  23. "Daft Punk: Discovery". Mixmag (London): 163. April 2001. 
  24. Ratliff, Ben (5 March 2001). "Daft Punk: Discovery". Rolling Stone (New York): 59–60. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6G2AxRQha. 
  25. Alexis Petridis. "CD of the week: Daft Punk: Discovery", 8 March 2001. Retrieved on 20 April 2013. 
  26. Schreiber, Ryan (13 March 2001). Daft Punk: Discovery. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 20 April 2013.
  27. Robert Christgau. "Turkey Shoot 2001", 20 November 2001. Retrieved on 20 April 2013. 
  28. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedWolk, Douglas et al. (2004). . Simon & Schuster.
  29. "The Best 50 Albums of 2001", pp. 60–65. 
  30. The Top 100 Albums of 2000-04. Pitchfork Media (7 February 2005). Retrieved on 2 October 2009.
  31. The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 20-1. Pitchfork Media (2 October 2009). Retrieved on 2 October 2009.
  32. 100 Best Albums of the Decade, 11-20. Rhapsody (4 December 2009). Retrieved on 12 January 2010.
  33. Top 100 albums of the '00s. Resident Advisor (25 January 2010). Retrieved on 19 March 2010.
  34. Dolan, Jon (2 August 2012). The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved on 4 October 2012.
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External linksEdit


Daft Punk albums

Homework (1997)Discovery (2001)Human After All (2005)Random Access Memories (2013)
Musique Vol. 1 (1993-2005) (2006)
Daft Club (2003)Human After All: Remixes (2006)Tron: Legacy Reconfigured (2011)
Alive 1997 (2001)Alive 2007 (2007)
Tron: Legacy (2010)

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