15 years ago this weekend, Daft Punk released their 2nd full-length studio album Discovery on the world and the world has never really been the same since, the dance music world anyway.
After transforming dance/house/electronic music as we know it with their landmark debut LP Homework, many fans were expecting a sequel of sorts for their sophomore release. When the first single “One More Time” was released approximately three months before the album, it became one of the most instantly polarizing records in dance music history. Purists were stunned by the duos foray into the world of Auto-Tune and the overall “commercialized” feel of the single. Others thought the move to be quite brilliant, and look to it as the moment when Daft Punk truly crossed over from an underground house act to a mainstream phenomenon. Let’s not forget that this is the record where they introduced us to their now standard robot helmet guises.
With the release of Discovery, fans now had a full-length concept album to embrace, which also served as the soundtrack to the accompanying anime film Interstella 5555: The 5storu of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem produced by Daft Punk and legendary Japanese animator Leiji Matsumoto. The duo spent about 2.5 years recording and developing the album and it certainly sounds like it. To this day, I believe it is the slickest sounding purely electronic album that has ever been produced. Every note, transition, nuance and sound is EXACTLY where it’s supposed to be with a beautiful sheen that makes the metallic font used for the album cover ever more appropriate. Beyond the tracks released as singles, the album has wonderful moments of, yes, DISCOVERY, including “High Life”, one of my favourite DP tunes, “Voyager” and even the tongue-in-cheek 10-minute long closing track “Too Long”. The list of guest performers is relatively short when compared to those featured on their collaboration-heavy fourth album Random Access Memories, but if that list is comprised of house legends Romanthony, Todd Edwards and DJ Sneak, clearly something is being done correctly.
Sampling made up a huge part of the record and I will not go into what was officially cleared and what was not; you may debate that among yourselves and, if necessary, use that rubbish Discovered bootleg disc which allegedly contains all the samples used. Half of them are wrong anyway, and include tracks thought to be sampled on Homework and Human After All. The point is, rather than simply looping samples and adding a beat to it (which they both did to great effect on their Roule and Crydamoure labels and releases), they ADDED and built songs around the samples putting their own brilliant touch to each. They have stated themselves that this was meant to be a FUN record, paying homage to the sounds and musical styles they most closely identified with in their youth. Indeed, it is difficult to find a moment on the album that can be described as introspective or deep and that’s fine. What we have are 14 tunes that blend together to create a timeless listening experience and considering the lasting impact the songs have had, this may very well be the duos most instantly recognizable release. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was employed to great effect in Kanye West’s “Stronger“, 6 years after its original release. I personally can attest that “One More Time” is my most played Daft Punk song as a DJ. Countless television and radio programs have used excerpts of the albums tracks as bumper or background music.
I won’t bother with a track-by-track review of this magnificent album. Instead, check out the video above so you can rediscover the beauty of this important, genre-bending and ultimately satisfying release for yourself. ONE MORE TIME.