Discovery (Daft Punk album)
|Studio album by Daft Punk|
|Released||3 March 2001|
|Daft Punk chronology|
|Singles from Discovery|
Discovery is the second studio album by French house duo Daft Punk, released on 3 March 2001, by Virgin Records. It marks a shift in the sound from Chicago house, which they were previously known for, to disco, post-disco, garage house, and synthpop-inspired house. The album later became the soundtrack of 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 segments of the film, which follows a story of a kidnapped extraterrestrial band.
Discovery is recognized as a concept album in reviews by New Musical Express and Spin magazines. 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 tracks later released on the album of the same name and Alive 1997.
According to an interview with Remix Magazine Online, Thomas Bangalter stated:
This album has a lot to do with our childhood and the memories of the state we were in at that stage of our lives. It's about our personal relationship to that time. 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 ten years old. When you're a child you don't judge or analyze music. You just like it because you like it. You're not concerned with whether it's cool or not. Sometimes you might relate to just one thing in a song, such as the guitar sound. This album takes a playful, fun, and colorful look at music. It's about the idea of looking at something with an open mind and not asking too many questions. It's about the true, simple, and honest relationship you have with music when you're open to your own feelings.
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 is cool'. Discovery was the opposite, of saying to the electronic kids, 'Rock is cool, you know? You can like that.'" He elaborated that Homework had been "a manifesto for electronic music at the time and a rough and raw thing" focused on sound production and texture, whereas the goal with Discovery was to explore song structures and new musical forms.
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 features the entire album as its soundtrack. Regarding the album from the perspective of animation, Daft Punk stated that, "We think the music we made on Discovery has been done in a cinematic way in our minds. We were visually seeing the music and trying to find ideas that were appealing to people's imagination. An animation fan would find this mixture of elements and story in our music."
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 tracks that were 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 its single release in 2000. After completing "Too Long" early in the album's production, Daft Punk decided that they "didn't want to do 14 more house tracks" in the way the genre is usually defined, and thus set out to incorporate a variety of styles for the record.
|“||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 makes emotional music. What's odd is 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 is part of how we sound today. Because they mean something to us, it was much more important for us to work with them than with other big stars.||”|
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 didn't know who we were at the time, so it was very difficult to convince them. When we met Romanthony in Miami, he told us he was very into what we were doing, which made us very happy. They are the house producers who were 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 do. Now that we've worked with them, we are free to explore other areas. It will be interesting to see what we'll do next. Now we can work with other people.||”|
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 had 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 had written 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.||”|
Discovery is a departure from Daft Punk's previous house sound. In his review for Allmusic, John Bush wrote that "if Homework was Daft Punk's Chicago house record," Discovery is "definitely the New York garage edition", and that 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. Stylus Magazine's Keith Gwillim asserted that it is not an electronica or house album, but instead a disco album that draws on the genre's "danceable" and "sappy" elements, including "ultra-processed vocals" and "prefabricated guitar 'solos'". Andrew Burgess of musicOMH said that the album is "more like disco, or even post-disco than house", particularly in its second half.
"One More Time" was the first single from the album and features vocalist Romanthony, who also wrote the lyrics for the song.
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A significant amount of sampling is present on the album. Rather than creating new music using only the samples, Daft Punk worked with them by writing and adding instrumental performance. The Discovery liner notes specify permitted use of samples for four tracks on the album: Part of George Duke's "I Love You More" is featured in "Digital Love"; Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby" was sampled for "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"; The Imperials song "Can You Imagine" is used for "Crescendolls"; Barry Manilow's "Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed" is credited for "Superheroes".
Several websites list many other samples present on the album, but Bangalter has stated that half of the samples he had seen listed are not true. He also stated the sampling they do is legitimately done, not something they try to hide. Bangalter elaborated that the newly recorded elements were implemented in a way that was equivalent to "creating fake samples [...] where people think there are samples from disco records or funk records." Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo estimated that half of the sampled material on Discovery was played live by the duo:
|“||I play more guitar usually, and Thomas plays more keyboards and bass. There's no ego involved. We don't argue about who's playing what. You can get the sound of a guitar with a keyboard, or the opposite. We don't really care about who's doing what as long as it's well-done. At the same time, when you use samples, you don't have this problem. When you use a sampler, nobody plays [live] on it, so the problem of the ego of the musician is not really there. For everything that we do, no matter how you get to the results, the important thing is the result.||”|
Several songs from the album would later be sampled by other artists. Kanye West's song "Stronger" from the album Graduation features 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. Wiley's song "Summertime" from the album See Clear Now features a sample of "Aerodynamic". Jazmine Sullivan's song "Dream Big" from the album Fearless features a sample of "Veridis Quo".
Discovery received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 74, based on 19 reviews. Allmusic's John Bush said that, with their comprehensive productions and loops of manifold elements, Daft Punk develop a sound that is "worthy of bygone electro-pop technicians from Giorgio Moroder to Todd Rundgren to Steve Miller." Q magazine wrote that the album is vigorous and innovative in its exploration of "old questions and spent ideals", and hailed it as "a towering, persuasive tour de force" that "transcends the dance label" and never lacks ideas, humor, or "brilliance". Joshua Clover, writing in Spin, dubbed Discovery disco's "latest triumph" and said that, although it "flags a bit" before the end, the opening stretch of songs is on-par with albums such as Sign "O" the Times (1987) and Nevermind (1991). Stephen Dalton of NME found its pop art ideas enthralling and credited Daft Punk for "re-inventing the mid-'80s as the coolest pop era ever." In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Will Hermes wrote that the "beat editing and EQ wizardry" still excite after Homework, despite the newly imbued sense of humor. Mixmag called Discovery "the perfect non-pop pop album" and credited Daft Punk for "altering the course of dance music for the second time".
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 become "muddled - not only in the spectrum between serious and jokey but in its sense of an identity." In his review for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis felt that Daft Punk's attempt to "salvage" older musical references resembles Homework, but is less coherent and successful. Pitchfork Media's Ryan Schreiber found their "prog and disco" hybrid "relatively harmless" and claimed that it was not "meant to be judged on its lyrics", which he dismissed as amateurish and commonplace. Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, facetiously said that the album may appeal to young enthusiasts of Berlin techno and computing, but it is too "French" and "spirituel" for American tastes. 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 [Daft Punk] dumb the album down, the funkier it gets" with an emphasis on hooks over songs.
Q listed Discovery as one of the best 50 albums of 2001. 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.
In 2009, Rhapsody placed the album at number twelve on its 100 Best Albums of the Decade list. It was also named the fourth best album of the decade by Resident Advisor. In 2012, Rolling Stone included Discovery at number eight on their list of The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time.
The album peaked at number two in the United Kingdom and number forty-four in the United States. Discovery has sold at least 2.6 million copies as of 2005. The album was certified triple platinum in France (in 2007) for shipments denoting 600,000 copies. As a result of sales, Discovery was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 11 October 2010. Two cult hits were spawned from this album: "One More Time" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". The song "Face to Face" reached number one on the Billboard dance chart in 2004. The album also was included on BBC Radio 1's Masterpieces in December 2009 presented by Zane Lowe, further highlighting the increased reception of the album over the decade. As of May 2013, the album has sold 802,000 copies in the US.
|1.||"One More Time" (featuring Romanthony)||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Anthony Moore||5:20|
|3.||"Digital Love"||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Carlos Sosa, George Duke||4:58|
|4.||"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Edwin Birdsong||3:45|
|5.||"Crescendolls"||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Dwight Brewster & Aleta Jennings||3:31|
|7.||"Superheroes"||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Barry Manilow, Marty Panzer||3:57|
|9.||"Something About Us"||3:51|
|13.||"Face to Face" (featuring Todd Edwards)||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Todd Imperatrice||3:58|
|14.||"Too Long" (featuring Romanthony)||Bangalter, de Homem-Christo, Moore||10:00|
- Daft Punk – sequencers, sampling, synthesizers, guitars, bass, vocals ("Digital Love", "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", "Something About Us"), talkboxes, vocoders, Wurlitzer electric piano, drum machines, production, concept, art direction
- Romanthony – lyrics, vocals on "One More Time" and lyrics, vocals, co-production on "Too Long"
- DJ Sneak – lyrics on "Digital Love"
- Todd Edwards – lyrics, vocals and co-production on "Face to Face"
- Nilesh Patel – mastering
- Alex & Martin – concept, art direction
- Cedric Hervet – concept, art direction
- Gildas Loaëc – concept, art direction
- Simon Scott – concept, art direction
- Daniel Vangarde – concept, art direction
- Pedro Winter – concept, art direction
- Mitchell Feinberg – liquid metal photos
- Luis Sanchis – piano photo
- Tony Gardner & Alterian – bionics engineering
- Tamiyuki "Spike" Sugiyama – Tokyo connector
Peak positionsIllegal chart entered BillboardTop Pop Catalog Albums|1
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|France (SNEP)||3× Platinum||548,662|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||20,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||805,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- Daft Punk
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- Discovery at Discogs (list of releases)
- Virgin Records Daft Punk official website for Discovery
- Interview video about Discovery