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Daft Punk-Discovery Review




Background

So usually, I do a written before listen but there is a difference. I have listened to this before. I have listened to the first two Daft Punk albums. I might do a review of Random Access Memories in the mere future but since Daft Punk broke up….I thought I would celebrate the legacy they left behind by reviewing one of their most seminal albums in their catalog (Discovery).

Sampling

So the sampling on this record is taken from multiple sources. A majority of the samples actually come from vintage disco records from the 70s and 80s molding songs like “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, “One More Time”,”Aerodynamic” and “High Life”. They also dig deep into other genres such as Adult Contemporary with mold the foundation of songs like “Superheroes”. We also cant talk about Daft Punks sampling without talking about the sampling gauntlet of “Face To Face” where they sampled Electric Light Orchestra, Kenny Loggins,Alan Parsons Project and Dan Fogelberg all in one song. Daft Punk were always one to not shy away from their influences and sampling is a way they did that.

Vocals

Unlike their previous album Homework, they brought in a guest vocalist to do vocals for some of the songs as well as their own. We heard their vocals in the past with hits like “Around The World” with their vocals doing the refrain but now we get an album thats as instrumental as it is lyrical. With the opening “One More Time” we get an anthemic performance from Romanthony with the iconic hook and it being recited over and over again until you just have to celebrate. On “Digital Love” we have Thomas talking about a long distance relationship in the most Daft Punk way possible because its innocent yet super futuristic sounding. Its for sure just a great tune with a great topic. On “Harder Better Faster Stronger” we get Guy-Manuel doing his vocoded voice that he did on “Around The World” basically making a more refined version of that sound with hard hitting drums and classic refrains. Thomas appears the second time on “Something About Us” with another tongue in cheek love song. It might be a basic lyrical structure but it still gets the point across and adds an even better vibe to the smooth yet funky instrumental. On “Face To Face” we get a guest appearance from Todd Edwards who is known int he UK Garage scene. He for sure does his job over the instrumental but the last track with vocals is the very last track on the album. We not only begin the album with Romanthony but we also end the album with him as well. It does get pretty stale due to the fact that its an intentional 10 minute track making the song called “Too Long”, too long. Overall I think what makes this album one of the most special dance albums is the fusion of instrumentals and vocal tracks. A lot of the vocals are rather vocoded or autotuned but they give Daft Punk a characteristic that only people after them could emulate.

Equipment

In interviews, they usually say that despite the lack of sampling on Discovery, they still use classic. Samplers like the SP-1200. So where do loops from scratch come into play? Daft Punk have said themselves that it mainly came from Korg,Roland and Moog. Their main synth though was the incredibly smooth and silky Roland JUNO-106. You could hear the Moog and JUNO sounds literally all over the record when most of the sounds come from that analog synthesizer. They also used a heavy amount of digital processing to make the vintage gear sound modern such as bit crushing, side chain compression and phasers. Another thing that made their tracks sound vintage is the use of drum machines like the 808,909 and Linn Drum which were insanely prevalent in 80s pop music. Daft Punk were masters of production and easily knew how to create a mood.

Influences

So a lot of Daft Punks instrumental palettes and sampling choices could also track back to the influences of the French Duo. They obviously have Disco influence with Bernard Edwards esc baselines, Sister Sledge like refrains and Brothers Johnson like chemistry. They also are heavily influenced by Progressive Electronic such as Jean Michael Jarre and Vangelis. Of course you could note people like Prince and Michael Jackson but its so much more than that. Another genre they take note of is soft rock like Fleetwood Mac,Eagles and The Doobie Brothers with clean guitars and atmospheric and mellow backing instruments. Mix that with some of the classic house jams of the 80s and 90s and you are so close to getting Daft Punk. There are two huge ingredients missing. Of course we get the worship of Giorgio Moroder with songs like “Veridis Quo” and the outro of “Aerodynamic” but we also get the concepts, futurism and robotic aspect of the one and only Kraftwerk. Its easy to say that their blend of influences makes them unmistakently Daft Punk and nothing else.

Cons

Despite being in my opinion the best House record and arguably the best dance record, there are some cons. I think the ideas on this project could come off a little stale or too tongue and cheek. For instance I honestly think despite being super upbeat and energetic the sample flip on “Superheroes” Is super repetitive and they could’ve done a little bit more. Also I think “Face To Face” despite being the most straightforward house cut gets kind of overshadowed by everything else on the album. I also think the song “Too Long” is a pretentious thought and thats it. Other than those minor flaws, I think this album is amazing

Verdict

It’s a classic record. Its one that every music fan should know. A quintessential 200s record, a quintessential dance record and so many 10/10 classic tracks on here. Despite the minor flaws, I think its one super strong record.

9/10

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