Discovery (Daft Punk album)

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Discovery
Daft Punk - Discovery.jpg
Studio album by Daft Punk
Released 26 February 2001 (2001-02-26)
Recorded 1998–2000
Studio
  • Daft House
  • (Paris, France)
Genre
Length 61:20
Label Virgin
Producer
Daft Punk chronology
Homework
(1997)Homework1997
Discovery
(2001)
Alive 1997
(2001)Alive 19972001
Japanese standard release
The Japanese cover, featuring characters from Interstella 5555.
The Japanese cover, featuring characters from Interstella 5555.
Singles from Discovery
  1. "One More Time"
    Released: 30 November 2000
  2. "Aerodynamic"
    Released: 28 March 2001
  3. "Digital Love"
    Released: 11 June 2001
  4. "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"
    Released: 13 October 2001
  5. "Face to Face"
    Released: 10 October 2003
  6. "Something About Us"
    Released: 14 November 2003

Discovery is the second studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, released on 26 February 2001 by Virgin Records. It marks a shift from the Chicago house sound prevalent on their first studio record, Homework (1997), to a house style more heavily inspired by disco, post-disco, garage house, and synthpop. Comparing their stylistic approach to their previous album, band member Thomas Bangalter described Discovery as an exploration of song structures and musical forms whereas Homework was "raw" electronic music. He also described Discovery as a reflection of the duo's childhood memories, when they would listen to music with a more playful and innocent viewpoint.

The album was recorded at Bangalter's home in Paris between 1998 and 2000. The album features extensive sampling; some samples were from older records while others were recorded by Daft Punk playing live instruments themselves. Fellow electronic musicians Romanthony, Todd Edwards, and DJ Sneak collaborated on some tracks both musically and lyrically. For the album's music videos, the group developed a concept involving the merging of science fiction with the entertainment industry. Inspired by their childhood love for Japanese anime, the duo collaborated with Leiji Matsumoto to produce Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, an anime film with the entirety of Discovery as the soundtrack.

In the lead-up to Discovery's release, the duo adopted robot costumes, claiming they had become robots as a result of an accident in their studio. They also launched Daft Club, a website which would feature exclusive tracks and other bonus material. Discovery was a critical and commercial success, peaking high across several charts internationally on release. Critics praised Daft Punk for innovating the house music scene in the same manner they had done with Homework. The album spawned six singles; the lead single, "One More Time", was its most successful and became a club hit. Other musicians, including Kanye West, have sampled tracks from Discovery in their own works.

Background[edit]

Discovery relates strongly to Daft Punk's childhood memories. Thomas Bangalter specified that the album deals with the duo's experiences growing up in the decade between 1975 and 1985, rather than it just being a tribute to the music of that period. The record was designed to reflect a playful, honest and open-minded attitude toward listening to music. Bangalter compared it to the state of childhood when one does not judge or analyze music: "you just like it because you like it."[3] Bangalter noted the stylistic approach of the album was in contrast 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.'"[4] 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.[5]

Composition[edit]

Discovery is a departure from Daft Punk's previous house sound.[6] 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.[1] 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'".[2] Other critics also described the album as post-disco.[7][8]

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.[9] 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".[10]

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.[11] 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."[12] Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo estimated that half of the sampled material on Discovery was played live by the duo, and emphasized that the resulting quality of the music was more important than the ego of who played which instruments.[13]

Recording[edit]

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.[5][14]

The album features musical contributions from Romanthony, Todd Edwards, and DJ Sneak. Romanthony and Edwards were some of the producers that had the most influence on Daft Punk. The duo had wanted to work with them on Homework, but was difficult to convince them since they were still relatively unknown.[3] DJ Sneak wrote the lyrics to "Digital Love" and assisted in the song's production.[15]

Promotion and release[edit]

Leiji Matsumoto supervised production of Interstella 5555.

The ideas for the album's music videos formed during the early Discovery recording sessions. Daft Punk's concept for the film involved the merging of science fiction with entertainment industry culture.[16] The duo recalled watching Japanese anime as children, including favorites such as Captain Harlock, Grandizer, and Candy Candy.[17] All three brought the album and the completed story to Tokyo in the hope of creating the film with their childhood hero, Leiji Matsumoto, who had created Captain Harlock.[17][16] After Matsumoto joined the team as visual supervisor, Shinji Shimizu had been contacted to produce the animation and Kazuhisa Takenouchi to direct the film. With the translation coordination of Tamiyuki "Spike" Sugiyama, production began in October 2000 and ended in April 2003.[16] The result of the collaboration was an anime film featuring the entirety of Discovery as the soundtrack.[17]

Daft Punk adopted robot costumes in the lead up to Discovery's release. They explained to press that they did not become robots by choice but rather, by accident. Their story goes that they were working in their studio when suddenly their sampler exploded at 9:09AM on 9 September 1999. When they regained consciousness, they realized they had become robots.[18]

Shortly before the album's release, the group launched Daft Club, a website which would offer exclusive tracks and other bonus material. Every Discovery CD included a Daft Club membership card bearing a unique number that provided personalized access to the web site.[18]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 74/100[19]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B[20]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[21]
Mixmag 5/5 stars[22]
NME 9/10[23]
Pitchfork 6.4/10[24]
Q 5/5 stars[25]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[26]
Spin 8/10[27]
The Village Voice C+[28]

Discovery received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 74, based on 19 reviews.[19] 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."[1] Q magazine wrote that the album was vigorous and innovative in its exploration of "old questions and spent ideals", hailing it as "a towering, persuasive tour de force" that "transcends the dance label" with no shortage of ideas, humor, or "brilliance".[25] Joshua Clover, writing in Spin, dubbed Discovery disco's "latest triumph" and said although it "flags a bit" before the end, the opening stretch of songs was on-par with albums such as Sign "O" the Times (1987) by Prince and Nirvana's Nevermind (1991).[27] Stephen Dalton from NME found the record's pop art ideas enthralling and credited Daft Punk for "re-inventing the mid-'80s as the coolest pop era ever."[23] In Entertainment Weekly, Will Hermes wrote that the "beat editing and EQ wizardry" still excite after Homework, despite the newly imbued sense of humor.[20] Mixmag called it "the perfect non-pop pop album" and said Daft Punk had "altered the course of dance music for the second time".[22]

Ben Ratliff from Rolling Stone was less impressed and wrote that few songs on Discovery were on-par with the grandiosity of "One More Time". He found most of them "muddled - not only in the spectrum between serious and jokey but in its sense of an identity."[26] In The Guardian, Alexis Petridis felt Daft Punk's attempt to "salvage" older musical references resembled Homework, but was less coherent and successful.[21] Pitchfork critic 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.[24] Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, facetiously said the album may appeal to young enthusiasts of Berlin techno and computing, but it was too "French" and "spirituel" for American tastes.[28] 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.[29]

Q listed Discovery as one of the best 50 albums of 2001.[30] The album was later ranked number 12 on Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of 2000–04 and number three on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.[31][32] In 2009, Rhapsody placed the album at number twelve on its 100 Best Albums of the Decade list.[33] It was also named the fourth best album of the decade by Resident Advisor.[34] In 2012, Rolling Stone included Discovery at number eight on their list of The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time.[35] The album also was included on BBC Radio 1's Masterpieces in December 2009 presented by Zane Lowe, highlighting the increased reception of the album over the decade.[36]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album peaked at number two in the United Kingdom[37] and France,[38] and number twenty-three in the United States.[39] The album was certified triple platinum in France (in 2007) for shipments denoting 600,000 copies.[40] As a result of sales, Discovery was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 11 October 2010.[41] As of May 2013, the album has sold 802,000 copies in the US.[42] The album's lead single "One More Time" was its most successful, peaking at number one on the French charts[43] and the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs charts, and peaked within the top ten on seven other charts. It remained the group's most successful single until the release of "Get Lucky" in 2013. The album's fifth single, "Face to Face," reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in 2004. Discovery has sold at least 2.6 million copies as of 2005.[44]

Legacy[edit]

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.[45] Wiley's song "Summertime" from the album See Clear Now features a sample of "Aerodynamic".[46] Jazmine Sullivan's song "Dream Big" from the album Fearless features a sample of "Veridis Quo".[47]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "One More Time" (featuring Romanthony)
5:20
2. "Aerodynamic"   3:27
3. "Digital Love"
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
6. "Nightvision"   1:44
7. "Superheroes"
3:57
8. "High Life"   3:22
9. "Something About Us"   3:51
10. "Voyager"   3:47
11. "Veridis Quo"   5:44
12. "Short Circuit"   3:26
13. "Face to Face" (featuring Todd Edwards)
3:58
14. "Too Long" (featuring Romanthony)
  • Bangalter
  • de Homem-Christo
  • Moore
10:00

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from Discovery liner notes:[10]

  • Daft Punk – vocals, vocoders (on "Digital Love", "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger", "Something About Us"), sequencers, sampling, synthesizers, Wurlitzer electric piano, guitars, bass, talkbox, drum machines, production (on All tracks), concept, art direction
  • Romanthony – lyrics, vocals (on "One More Time" and "Too Long"), 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

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[71] Gold 35,000^
Belgium (BEA)[72] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[73] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[74] 3× Platinum 548,662[75]
Germany (BVMI)[76] Gold 150,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[77] Platinum 200,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[78] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[79] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[80] Gold 805,000[42]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[81] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]