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Daft Punk Homework Album Art Exchange

Homework is the debut studio album by the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, released on 20 January 1997 by Virgin Records and Soma Quality Recordings. The duo produced the tracks without plans to release an album. After working on projects that were intended to be separate singles over five months, they considered the material good enough for an album.

Homework's success brought worldwide attention to French house music. Homework charted in 14 different countries, peaking at number 3 on the French Albums Chart, number 150 on the United States Billboard 200 and at number 8 on the UK Albums Chart. By February 2001, the album had sold more than two million copies worldwide and received several gold and platinum certifications. Overall, Homework received positive critical response. The album features singles that had significant impact in French house and global dance music scenes, including the U.S. BillboardHot Dance/Club Play number-one singles "Da Funk" and "Around the World", the latter of which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background and recording[edit]

In 1993, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo presented a demo of their electronic music to DJ Stuart Macmillan at a rave at EuroDisney.[2] The contents of the cassette were released on the single "The New Wave" on 11 April 1994, by Soma Quality Recordings, a Scottish techno and house label co-founded in 1991 by MacMillan's band Slam.[3] Daft Punk returned to the studio in May 1995 to record "Da Funk",[4] which was released later that year alongside "Rollin' & Scratchin'" under the Soma label.[5]

The increasing popularity of Daft Punk's singles led to a bidding war among record labels, resulting in the duo's signing to Virgin Records in 1996.[7][8] Their departure was noted by Richard Brown of Soma, who affirmed that "we were obviously sad to lose them to Virgin but they had the chance to go big, which they wanted, and it's not very often that a band has that chance after two singles. We're happy for them."[2] Virgin re-released "Da Funk" with the B-side "Musique" in 1996, a year before releasing Homework. Bangalter later stated that the B-side "was never intended to be on the album, and in fact, 'Da Funk' as a single has sold more units than Homework, so more people own it anyways [sic] than they would if it had been on the album. It is basically used to make the single a double-feature."[9] The album was mixed and recorded in Daft Punk's studio, Daft House in Paris. It was mastered by Nilesh Patel at the London studio The Exchange.[10]

Bangalter stated that "to be free, we had to be in control. To be in control, we had to finance what we were doing ourselves. The main idea was to be free."[11] Daft Punk discussed their method with Spike Jonze, director of the "Da Funk" music video. He noted that "they were doing everything based on how they wanted to do it. As opposed to, 'oh we got signed to this record company, we gotta use their plan.' They wanted to make sure they never had to do anything that would make them feel bummed on making music."[12] Although Virgin Records holds exclusive distribution rights over Daft Punk's material, the duo still owns their master recordings through their Daft Trax label.[7][13]

Composition[edit]

Daft Punk produced the tracks included in Homework without a plan to release an album. Bangalter stated, "It was supposed to be just a load of singles. But we did so many tracks over a period of five months that we realized that we had a good album."[14] The duo set the order of the tracks to cover the four sides of a two-disc vinyl LP.[9] De Homem-Christo remarked, "There was no intended theme because all the tracks were recorded before we arranged the sequence of the album. The idea was to make the songs better by arranging them the way we did; to make it more even as an album."[9] The name Homework, Bangalter explained, relates to "the fact that we made the record at home, very cheaply, very quickly, and spontaneously, trying to do cool stuff."[15]

"Alive"

"Alive", first single released from Homework, is the final version recorded of "The New Wave",[16] which was the first song made by Daft Punk.[2]



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"Daftendirekt" is an excerpt of a live performance recorded in Ghent, Belgium;[10] it served as the introduction to Daft Punk's live shows and was used to begin the album.[9] The performance took place at the first I Love Techno, an event co-produced by Fuse and On the Rox on 10 November 1995.[18]Janet Jackson sampled "Daftendirekt" on her song "So Much Betta", which was included in her tenth studio album, Discipline, in 2008.[19]Homework's following track, "WDPK 83.7 FM", is a tribute to FM radio in the US.[11] The next song, "Revolution 909" is a reflection on the French government's stance on dance music.[9][20]

"Revolution 909" is followed by "Da Funk", which carries elements of funk and acid music.[2] According to Andrew Asch of the Boca Raton News, the song's composition "relies on a bouncy funk guitar to communicate its message of dumb fun."[21] Bangalter expressed that "Da Funk"'s theme involved the introduction of a simple, unusual element that becomes acceptable and moving over time.[22] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine complimented the song as "unrelenting",[23] and Bob Gajarsky of Westnet called it "a beautiful meeting of Chic (circa "Good Times", sans vocals) and the 90s form of electronica."[24] The song appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 film The Saint and was placed at number 18 on Pitchfork's "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s" list.[25] "Phœnix" combines elements of gospel music and house music.[9] The duo considered "Fresh" to be breezy and light with a comical structure.[26] Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine criticized the song, stating that it "doesn't feel like the beach just because of the lapping waves heard in the background."[27]

The single "Around the World" carries influences of Gershon Kingsley's hit "Popcorn".[2] Its music video was directed by the Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Michel Gondry, who compared the track's bassline to that of "Good Times" by Chic.[28] Chris Power of BBC Music named it "one of the decade's catchiest singles". He stated that it was "a perfect example of Daft Punk's sound at its most accessible: a post-disco boogie bassline, a minimalist sprinkling of synthetic keyboard melody and a single, naggingly insistent hook."[17] Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine commented that "there is no way you'd want to have a Homework without 'Around The World'."[27] The track "Teachers" is a tribute to several of Daft Punk's house music influences, including future collaborators Romanthony, DJ Sneak and Todd Edwards.[29] The song "Oh Yeah" features DJ Deelat and DJ Crabbe. "Indo Silver Club" features a sample of "Hot Shot" by Karen Young.[10] Prior to its inclusion on Homework, "Indo Silver Club" was released as a single on the Soma Quality Recordings label in two parts.[30] The single lacked an artist credit in the packaging[30] and was thought to have been created by the nonexistent producers Indo Silver Club.[31] The final track, "Funk Ad", is a reversed clip of "Da Funk".[9]

Singles[edit]

Homework features singles that had significant impact in the French house[32] and global dance music scenes.[7] The first single from the album, "Alive", was included as a B-side on the single "The New Wave", which was released in April 1994. The album's second single was "Da Funk"; it was initially released in 1995 by Soma and was re-released by Virgin Records in 1996. It became the duo's first number-one single on the BillboardHot Dance/Club Play chart.[33] The song reached number seven on British[34] and French charts.[35] The third single, "Around the World", was a critical and commercial success, becoming the second number-one single on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart,[33] as well as reaching number 11 in Australia,[36] number five in the United Kingdom[37] and number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.[38] In October 2011, NME placed "Around the World" at number 21 on its list of "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[39] The album's fourth single was "Burnin'"; it was released in September 1997 and peaked at number 30 in the UK.[37] The final single from Homework was "Revolution 909". It was released in February 1998 and reached number 47 in the UK[37] and number 12 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart.[38]

In 1999, the duo released a video collection featuring music videos of tracks and singles from the album under the name of D.A.F.T.: A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes. Although its title derives from the appearances of dogs ("Da Funk" and "Fresh"), androids ("Around the World"), firemen ("Burnin'"), and tomatoes ("Revolution 909") in the videos, a cohesive plot does not connect its episodes.[40]

Critical reception[edit]

Homework's success brought worldwide attention to French progressive house music,[51] and drew attention to French house music.[32] According to The Village Voice, the album revived house music and departed from the Euro dance formula.[52] In the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, critic Alex Rayner stated that Homework tied the established club styles to the "burgeoning eclecticism" of big beat. He contended that it served as a proof that "there was more to dance music than pills and keyboard presets."[53]Clash described Homework as an entry point of accessibility for a "burgeoning movement on the cusp of splitting the mainstream seam."[54] In 2009, Brian Linder of IGN described Homework as the duo's third-best album. He catalogued as a "groundbreaking achievement" the way they used their unique skills to craft the house, techno, acid and punk music styles into the record.[55] Hua Hsu of eMusic agreed, applauding Homework for how it captured a "feeling of discovery and exploration" as a result of "years of careful study of the finest house, techno, electro and hip-hop records."[56] David Browne, writing in Entertainment Weekly, stated that the duo knew how to use "their playful, hip-hopping ambient techno" to craft the album. He named Homework the "ideal disco for androids".[43] Sean Cooper of AllMusic called the album "an almost certain classic" and "essential".[41]

Chris Power of BBC Music compared Homework's "less-is-more" approach to compression's use as "a sonic tribute" to the FMradio stations that "fed Daft Punk's youthful obsessions."[17] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that "while a few tracks are more daft than deft," more recent groundbreakers like The Avalanches could never exist without "Da Funk".[23] Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine noted that "there's a core of unimpeachably classic work on Homework, hidden among the merely good, and when you've got such a classic debut hidden in the outlines of the epic slouch of their debut, it's hard not to get frustrated."[27]Rolling Stone awarded the album three stars out of five, commenting that "the duo's essential, career-defining insight is that the problem with disco the first time around was not that it was stupid but that it was not stupid enough."[49]Rolling Stone ranked Homework at the top on their list of "The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time" while affirming that Daft Punk's debut "is pure synapse-tweaking brilliance."[57] According to Scott Woods of The Village Voice, "Daft Punk [tore] the lid off the [creative] sewer" with the release of Homework.[52] Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork awarded it 7.6 out of 10. He stated that "Homework provides sixteen whole tracks of modern-day boom box bass n' drum and unlike your science project, it doesn't require a lot of intricate calculations to figure out how it works." In his view, "It sounds like an Atari 2600 on a killing spree."[47] By contrast, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice cited "Da Funk" as a "choice cut",[58] indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".[59] Darren Gawle from Drop-D Magazine also gave a negative review, stating that "Homework is the work of a couple of DJs who sound amateurish at best."[60]

Commercial performance[edit]

Daft Punk wanted the majority of pressings to be on vinyl, so only 50,000 albums were initially printed in Vinyl format. After its release, overwhelming sales of Homework caused distributors to accelerate production to satisfy demand. The album was distributed in 35 countries worldwide,[7] peaking at number 150 on the Billboard 200.[61]Homework first charted on the Australian Albums Chart on 27 April 1997; it remained there for eight weeks and peaked at number 37.[62] In France, the album reached number three and stayed on the chart for 82 weeks. In 1999, it reached Gold status in France for selling more than 100,000 copies.[63] On 11 July 2001, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, indicating sales of 500,000 copies in the US.[64][65] By October 1997, the album had sold 220,000 copies worldwide,[66] although Billboard reported that, according to Virgin Records, two million copies had been sold by February 2001.[67] By September 2007, 605,000 copies had been sold in the United States.[68]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

1."Daftendirekt"2:44
2."WDPK 83.7 FM"0:28
3."Revolution 909"5:26
4."Da Funk"5:28
5."Phœnix"4:55
6."Fresh"4:03
7."Around the World"7:04
8."Rollin' & Scratchin'"7:26
9."Teachers"2:52
10."High Fidelity"6:00
11."Rock'n Roll"7:32
12."Oh Yeah"2:00
13."Burnin'"6:53
14."Indo Silver Club"4:32
15."Alive"5:15
16."Funk Ad"0:51
Total length:73:53

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Dolan, Jon; Matos, Michaelangelo (2012-08-02). "The 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  2. ^ abcdefCollin, Matthew (August 1997). "Do You Think You Can Hide From Stardom?". Mixmag. Retrieved on 6 March 2007.
  3. ^The New Wave (liner notes). Daft Punk. Soma Quality Recordings. 5 024856 620149.
  4. ^"Daft Punk History & Facts"Archived 6 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. The Daft Punk Site. Retrieved on 1 May 2012.
  5. ^James (2003), p. 273.
  6. ^Moayeri, Lily (9 June 2007). "Punk As They Wanna Be". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  7. ^ abcdRFI Music – Biography – Daft PunkRadio France Internationale. Retrieved on 3 March 2007.
  8. ^Woholeski, Peter (May 2001). "One More Time: Four Years After Its Filter Filled Splashdown, Daft Punk Retirns With Discovery – Complete with House Beats, Disco Sweeps and, Yes, Plenty of Vocoders"Archived 22 August 2001 at the Wayback Machine.. DJ Times. Retrieved on 5 May 2007.
  9. ^ abcdefgWarner, Jennifer. "Interview with Daft Punk"Archived 10 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.. p. 3. DMA. About.com. Retrieved on 30 March 2007.
  10. ^ abcHomework (liner notes). Daft Punk. Virgin Records, a division of EMI Group. 42609. 1997.
  11. ^ abDi Perna, Alan (April 2001). "We Are The Robots", Pulse!. pp. 65–69.
  12. ^Jonze, Spike (2003). The Work of Director Spike Jonze companion book. Palm Pictures. Retrieved on 4 May 2012.
  13. ^James (2003), p. 267.
  14. ^James (2003), p. 269.
  15. ^Nickson, Chris (June 1997). "Daft Punk: Parlez-vous da funk?". CMJ New Music Monthly (46). CMJ Network. p. 10. ISSN 1074-6978. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  16. ^The New Wave (lines notes). Daft Punk. Soma Quality Recordings. 5 024856 620149.
  17. ^ abcPower, Chris (5 January 2010). "Review of Daft Punk – Homework". BBC Music. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  18. ^History - I Love Techno (lineup 1995). ilovetechno.be. Retrieved on 3 May 2014.
  19. ^Discipline (Booklet). Janet Jackson. Island Records, a division of The Island Def Jam Music Group. 2008.
  20. ^Warner, Jennifer. "Interview with Daft Punk"Archived 8 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. p. 2. DMA. About.com. Retrieved on 10 February 2012.
  21. ^Asch, Andrew (18 December 1997). "Daft Punk smashes charts with simplicity". Boca Raton News. Retrieved on 1 May 2012.
  22. ^Daft Punk audio commentary for "Da Funk" music video, The Work of Director Spike Jonze (2003).
  23. ^ abCinquemani, Sal (2 November 2002). "Daft Punk: Homework". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  24. ^Gajarsky, Bob (28 April 1997). "Daft Punk, Homework"Archived 10 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Westnet. Retrieved on 1 May 2012.
  25. ^Ryan Dombal (3 September 2009). "Staff Lists: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 20-01". Pitchfork. Retrieved on 10 February 2012.
  26. ^D.A.F.T.: A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes. Virgin Records. 1999.
  27. ^ abcMathers, Ian (9 May 2005). "Daft Punk: Homework – Playing God". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  28. ^Gondry, Michel (2003). The Work of Director Michel Gondry companion book. Palm Pictures. Retrieved on 4 May 2012.
  29. ^Gill, Chris (1 May 2001). ROBOPOP. Remix Magazine. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  30. ^ abIndo Silver Club (liner notes). Daft Punk. Soma Quality Recordings. SOMA 035.
  31. ^Silcott, Mireille (3 April 1997). "Personality punks". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved on 3 August 2011.
  32. ^ abJames (2003). p. 292.
  33. ^ ab"Daft Punk Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  34. ^"Archive Chart"UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  35. ^"Lescharts.com – Daft Punk – Da Funk" (in French). Les classement single. Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  36. ^"Discography Daft Punk". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  37. ^ abc"DAFT PUNK". Official Charts Company. Retrieved on 30 April 2012
  38. ^ ab"Daft Punk Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved on 1 May 2012.
  39. ^Tim Chester. 150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years – #21 – Daft Punk – Around the WorldNME. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  40. ^Deming, Mark. "Daft Punk: D.A.F.T. – A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen, and Tomatoes (2000)". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  41. ^ abCooper, Sean. "Homework – Daft Punk". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  42. ^Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  43. ^ abBrowne, David (23 May 1997). "Homework". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  44. ^Bennun, David (24 January 1997). "Hip to the trip". The Guardian. 
  45. ^"Daft Punk: Homework (Virgin)". Muzik (21): 58. February 1997. 
  46. ^Dalton, Stephen (18 January 1997). "Daft Punk – Homework". NME. Archived from the original on 11 October 2000. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  47. ^ abSchreiber, Ryan. "Daft Punk: Homework". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 16 March 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  48. ^"Daft Punk: Homework". Q (127): 120. April 1997. 
  49. ^ abWolk, Douglas (2004). "Daft Punk". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 207. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
We've got much more control than money. You can't get everything. We live in a society where money is what people want, so they can't get the control. We chose. Control is freedom. People say we're control freaks, but control is controlling your destiny without controlling other people.
—Thomas Bangalter, in regards to the duo's creative control and freedom[6]

Dusting ‘Em Off is a rotating, free-form feature that revisits a classic album, film, or moment in pop-culture history.

Homework will be playing as my soul glides into the ether.

These days, Daft Punk announce their superhuman abilities almost immediately — some might argue they’re more ubiquitous for their robotic guise over their actual music — but 20 years ago, when they released their sublime debut album, Homework, they were merely two French tricksters named Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. At the time, they had begun wearing masks to produce an ego-less, universal presence for dance music — a language that could exist without signifiers, if you will — though decidedly not the chromed helmets of today. Rather than mechanic flourishes on the album art, they opted for simple satin.

Though the packaging has ramped up to surreal new heights of whimsy and wonder, it’s now remarkable to see just how much of Daft Punk’s sound has crystallized over the past two decades. Of course, it helps that they chose some valuable inspirational signposts in house, techno, G-funk, and hip-hop. Even so, the two producers were only 22 years old, an incredibly early age given the clarity and grace they had exuded in this complete and timeless masterpiece. In fact, it’s become more or less an instruction manual for current would-be producers, namely how it runs through genres as though they were hyperactive cartoon characters.

For that reason, the album’s connections to the past and influence on the future can be viewed much more clearly. Granted, the genres they twirled into Homework were previously indebted to sampling and remixing, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg to this album. What’s far more intriguing is the matter bubbling underneath, which is why we’ve gone ahead and dismantled each of the album’s 16 tracks piece by piece, searching for particular influences that they might have had and uncovering which artists might have been influenced. It’s an around-the-world study of Daft Punk, and one that requires zero airfare and zero SkyMiles. Dancing shoes are optional.

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“Daftendirekt”

Prior to 1997, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo had been using the minimalist but entrancing “Daftendirekt” as the intro to their live performances, making it a fitting and wise choice to their debut album. It puts on display their embrace of house, a minimal yet disorienting groove that relies on a slow boil to get feet moving as the album crystallizes. With robotic vocoder and staccato 909, these beats combine the techno tapestry of Armand Van Helden’s “Witch Doktor”, a beguiling and funk-ified take on Sound on Sound’s “69”, and a bone-cracking “Le Patron Est Devenu Fou” by Etienne de Crecy — it’s moving when taken as a whole. That simple yet powerful formula made waves immediately, bringing the French house scene to the public attention — to the point that even Janet Jackson sampled it in “So Much Betta”, borrowing a bit of their robotic cool to add some unexpected oddness to her sultry compositions. In a sense, Daft Punk work as a link between the mechanic music of Kraftwerk and the electronic-indebted pop of the 2000s and ‘10s, and “Daftendirekt” shows how much and how quickly their influence spread.

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“WDPK”

Though the 28 seconds of “WDPK 83.7 FM” may not be the most influential or important track in their catalog, it works as a succinct transition between “Daftendirekt” and “Revolution 909”, using the sample of Vaughan Mason and Crew’s “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” as a bridge. The voice announcing the titular radio station, some have claimed, belongs to Bangalter; whether that’s true or not, the playful idolatry of dance radio fits in with Daft Punk’s self-aware adaptation of Western dance tropes. The sampled, slick “musique” (from their own track of the same name) plays a perfect rhythmic counterpoint to the tinny hi-hat echoey clap and heavy bass on the downbeats, a quick but effective track.

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“Revolution 909”

After the radio intro of “WDPK”, “Revolution 909” opens with its own narrative swatch: a rave getting broken up by the cops who insist that they “stop the music and go home.” But of course, police intervention couldn’t stop a beat as pulsing and insist as this one, the Doppler effect of the sirens transmuting into a mesmeric synth spin. The beat ripples and pops with an urgency, akin to the late ‘80s Chicago acid house of Phuture, though the track works off a clean bass line to smooth out that potential venom. The layers phase in and out of prominence, Daft Punk toying with the loops just enough to keep the heart rates racing, but not so much that it’s distracting. They manage the drama of the piece into a tidy arc, pushing and pulling at marionette strings to keep everyone dancing. Though only comprising the first 45 seconds of the five-and-a-half-minute track, the police story shows the band’s keen attention to narrative, something that’s proven incredibly influential both in the storytelling electronic music of acts like Nicolas Jaar and the more literal storytelling of Gorillaz — who actually sampled the crowd being broken up by the police in their 2005 track “Dare”.
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“Da Funk”

Homework made an immediate impact with fans, but it’s remarkable how quickly their contemporaries and even those that predated them found inspiration in their subversion of house, hip-hop, and more. “Da Funk” is their G-Funk-leaning jam (specifically Warren G’s “Regulate”), a Moroder-esque synth hook that latches on at its 110 BPM lope and never lets go. The song was making such big waves that, as it’s told, The Chemical Brothers started incorporating it into their sets. Even years later, another massive dance-leaning act would crib from “Da Funk”: LCD Soundsystem would grab snippets of it during extended jams. Daft Punk’s imprint was massive and immediate, and the bump and grind gangsta lean of “Da Funk” makes that obvious from minute one. Their fountain of ideas was already seemingly limitless, and this gleeful melody — resembling a wordless verse-chorus-verse structure, produced on a TB-303 bass synthesizer — and tight four-four drum pattern show their pop takeover potential. The one thing I cherish about them is their absolute inability to refuse a good gambit.
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“Phoenix”

“Phoenix” opens with a simple, straight-ahead percussive loop, a bass drum hitting the downbeat hard. Layers of cymbals and drums snap into polyrhythmic place, building outwards like layers of mechanic shell around a thudding heart. The two-note synth hook takes lead not long after, eventually subsumed by an enigmatic, fascinating bass line — something like the humming of a lumbering giant skipping his way home. It makes sense that the track was eventually remixed by Basement Jaxx, an English duo locking down their own corner of the underground house world; Jaxx opened for Daft Punk on their first UK tour, the two groups sharing a lot of the same playful layering and subversive flips, something that followers like Justice and SBTRKT have latched onto expertly. Though not a stereotypical dance pattern, the track clearly gets the body moving; this same phenomenon was arising in drill and bass offshoots in the same year like Aphex Twin’s “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball” and Squarepusher (as well as late-era Daniel Bell, eventually), making even the most complicated rhythms irresistible.
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“Fresh”

Sub a live vocal hook into “Fresh” for its delightfully disorienting chopped and looped voice, and you might wind up with something akin to the swirling, sweet party jams of Hot Chip or VHS or Beta. Opening and closing on the wash of waves, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo quickly establish the primacy of a guitar that ripples just as sweetly as the surf. Concentric circles of synth and phased percussion dominate most of the track, but the psychedelia of the guitar and that incessant vocal make for a compelling brew. That same interplay of traditional dance patterns, melting instrumentation, and a simple, yet expressive vocal performance (and whatever the voice on “Fresh” is saying, it seems seriously felt) laid groundwork for bands that would further fuse electronic music with pop-friendly structures. In fact, it may have been laying groundwork for themselves as well; while others built on the intense drama of Radiohead’s OK Computer or the glitchy breakbeats of Autechre’s Chiastic Slide, Daft Punk continued down the rainbow path of “Fresh” and eventually led to “One More Time”.
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“Around the World”

I had never seen a mummy dance before! Sampled, remixed, or covered by everyone from Jojo to Snoop Dogg, “Around the World” clearly has as much appeal with other artists as it does with the millions of adoring fans who still fill the dance floor whenever it gets played, even 20 years later. The deceptively simple beat builds an entire party globe out of five different layers, each cut up and pasted back together in equally simple chunks — though when all glued up, they produce a collage of grand dance repercussions. Before they got the opportunity to reassert the power of Nile Rodgers by actually playing with him, “Around the World” rode a super-Chic bass line into hearts around the world, but the Heil talkbox used here to produce some of their earliest robo-voices may just be the most memorable aspect of the track. Infusing disco and R&B into house music wasn’t unique at the time, but neither was it entirely common; the thing that really sells “Around the World” as a vision of the Daft Punk future is the way in which they turn the repeated house vocal line into something otherworldly and dystopically cool.
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“Rollin’ & Scratchin’”

In a world where waiting for the drop has become the national pastime and industrial-adjacent synth scrapes are just a part of everyday parlance, “Rollin’ & Scratchin’” shows you exactly how far ahead of their time Daft Punk were. The seven-and-a-half-minute track opens for nearly two minutes on a single repeating drum beat and a slowly building synth drone. Eventually some roboticized handclaps mix in, followed by some sine wave bass rumble. The high end wins out, though, the sound of teeth getting drilled paired with nearly buried and scrambled radio signals. The road from here to Skrillex and dubstep may not be a straight line, but it shares a lot of the same infrastructure. And when Daft Punk reach their peak on “Rollin’ & Scratchin’”, they truly pop off the soundwave, all rough edges and swaggering confidence. But as with most Daft Punk productions, this one straddles house and European techno as well, combining the drawn-out builds of Lil Louis (think “French Kiss”) and German producer Losoul (whose “Sawce” was surely influenced by Daft Punk’s squared synth tones).
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“Teachers”

Interestingly enough, “Teachers” is essentially Daft Punk listing and paying tribute to their influences, a wonky funk bass line, chopped and reverbed vocal sample, and straightforward rhythm slinking along while Bangalter lists musicians who taught the Robots what they know — in an entrancing double-layered vocal delivery, combining a pitched-up and a pitched-down version into a beguiling superhuman fusion. That shifted style wound up being a key element of similarly disorienting beat disruptors The Knife. More simply, Soulwax did their own version of “Teachers”. In the sped up take, Soulwax’s list differs pretty greatly from Daft Punk’s (The Sonics and Nirvana for the former, DJ Funk and George Clinton for the latter). But that truly gets to the transformative power that Daft Punk had on music as a whole: They can stand as essential influence to musicians who rely on noise rock as much as hip-hop.
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“High Fidelity”

Though certainly not the first to be chopping up samples, there’s a unique depth and surreal familiarity to Bangalter and de Homem-Christo’s use of other tracks. On “High Fidelity”, they dissect Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”, rearranging it into a creature at once completely new and hinting at some innate connection that can’t be denied, no matter how much Joel’s syllables get split apart. While acts like The Hood Internet and Girl Talk looked at the act of sampling and made bold new leaps into reinterpretation, Daft Punk had turned Joel’s words into their own unique language all the way back in the mid-’90s. Knowing the origin of the sample makes the curls of Joel’s syllables a little cheekier, but the track grooves with a continental cool even without that knowledge, the key attribute of a truly successful sample. Beat-wise, the electronic burbles recall another Chicago mainstay, Cajmere and his “Coffee Pot (It’s Time For the Percolator)”.
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“Rock’n Roll”

The layers of clap-stomp percussion and analog synth squirm at the onset of “Rock‘n Roll” phase in and out of synchronicity, a heady pulse that feels like a retro space age computer blinking in and out of control. The extra layers of synth pulsing up and down in octaves around that initial core continue that conflict, the song threatening to pull apart from its motherboard at any moment. The tones get louder and fuzzier, burying the needle in the red, the stomp of the percussion eventually growing more insistent. Daft Punk were digging through house crates from the very start, but this song proves emblematic of that vital energy without too closely aping the textures; “Rock’n Roll” glitches up the deep house and acid like Glenn Underground circa 1995 and DJ Pierre, though keeping closer to source material than Aphex Twin’s experiments (say, “Flaphead” from 1992).
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“Oh Yeah”

When early Daft Punk records used vocals, they had a propensity to latch onto a single word or line, and then repeat it ad nauseam, just another layer of percussive sound to match with the synths and drum machines. On “Oh Yeah”, it’s a seemingly disaffected group of youths (though with all their pitch-shifting, who knows) repeating the title, interlocking with the gritty bounce of the sub-bass. That minimalist lyrical approach was influential for Dan Snaith, and his Caribou records carry traces of the droning repetition and mantric lyrics of this era of Daft Punk. The two acts boil down to their simplest and most necessary pieces, and then explode them out to their largest scope. There’s some of “Oh Yeah” buried into Snaith’s “If Assholes Could Fly, This Place Would Be An Airport” — or at least an homage, considering their shared skronking blue-toned synth and chopping beat. The heavy, thumping bass and syncopated percussion near the song’s middle set up their connection to hip-hop as well, “Oh Yeah” immediately lending itself to chopping up for a potentially powerful rap production.
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“Burnin’”

Chicago’s house music scene is an essential piece of the Daft Punk puzzle, so much so that they traveled to the Windy City to record a video for “Burnin’”, bringing a few of the city’s house DJs in for cameos. The song itself is ablaze with the funky minimalism of house, though with its unique robotic squeak. The limber bass flexes and struts while a rubber-band synth stretches and snaps back into place, all while a skittering hi-hat keeps things driving forward. The track may not be the melodic, hook-driven Daft Punk that would come later, but it displays their ease with tension and dramatic build, the super-minimalist layers iterating for nearly seven minutes without a moment of fading interest. Though they were producing in France and emulating Chicago, it was clear even this early that there was something entirely otherworldly about the Daft Punk experience.
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“Indo Silver Club”

Disco never really died, it just slipped into a dark corner where only dance producers could find its sequins and sparkles, and get it ready to push out onto the dance floor. And nobody knows how to gussy up some slippery disco and set it back under the spotlight quite like Daft Punk. On “Indo Silver Club”, they sample middle-tier disco star Karen Young’s “Hot Shot” and modernize it into an absolute banger. The track clearly sets a precedent for the likes of Jamie xx and Chromeo, where the mirrorball shines brightly but eccentric choices are rewarded. The 909 drum machine keeps things from drifting too far away from the house sound, drilling its kick into the back of the beat and never letting go.
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“Alive”

Released as “The New Wave” in 1994, Daft Punk’s first single with Soma Recordings eventually evolved into penultimate Homework track, “Alive”. Legend has it that the duo handed a demo of the song to label cofounder Stuart Macmillan at a rave at EuroDisney. Considering the duo’s blend of European techno and American house, that exchange happening at Mickey Mouse’s French home seems particularly fitting. The Homework edit of the track cuts two minutes off the original seven-minute track, and yet feels as overarchingly cool and mystically deep. Artists like Avicii and Zedd have taken from this strain of Daft Punk’s DNA to varying degrees of success, turning the simple moments into grand statements. The gritty, incessant bounce builds and builds, only to fade out into the urban dusk.
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“Funk Ad”

After the high drama of “Alive” — a track that would be a superb album closer — Daft Punk return to their sly playfulness with “Funk Ad”. The track is nothing more than a sub-minute snippet of “Da Funk” flipped in reverse. It shouldn’t work (the concept is so cheeky), but then somehow it just … does. The bones of “Da Funk” are just so strong that it can withstand getting pushed through a time-warping black hole and coming out the other end. It brings everything to a sweet fade, the album collapsing in on its own funk. That playful approach to dance music has spawned a thousand 808-toting jesters, though very few can pull off goofy and serious with powerful, intelligent depth behind both.