An Imaginary Compilation – Daft Punk
Written by guest contributor Aidan Baker
JC – your blog is wonderful, the range and variety of the music is terrific and a lot of it is new to me – just recently, there was a piece about Asian Dub Foundation, brilliant band, one I had never checked out before. It’s this that makes it so compulsive. I’ve been reading T(n)VV for about three years, having been sent a link by a friend of mine. I’m into all forms of music, but I’ve never contributed, I’ve never commented but I’ve downloaded so much from the site – I thought it might be time to offer something back – An Imaginary Compilation on my favourite band of all time – Daft Punk
First a history lesson. In 1992, the members of Daft Punk and one of fellow French music pioneers formed a band called Darlin’ – they signed to Stereolab’s label and even supported them a couple of times. Then came a review from Melody Maker which called them ‘Daft Punky Thrash’ – and Darlin’ immediately disbanded. Liking the term, the guys ditched the Phoenix chap and formed a new band – called Daft Punk.
They have been a band which have always pushed boundaries musically, their debut record ‘Homework’ drew heavily from the Chicago house scene. Their second record ‘Discovery’ was warmer and more emotional and has several nods to the 70s soul scene and even samples Barry Manilow on one track. Then ‘One More Time’ dropped and the world went Daft Punk crazy.
The third record ‘Human After All’ was panned but it is an excellent record full of massive tunes like ‘Technologic’. It plays on the robot angle more heavily – ‘Robot Rock’ for instance. However the love for Daft Punk was dropping, so sensing the public’s mood, Daft Punk vanished. Then they returned a few years later and teamed up with Pharrell Williams and released the biggest record in years – ‘Get Lucky’. A record that is not that different from ‘One More Time’ just more reliant on Nile Rodgers than Will.i.am perhaps. The album that followed ‘Random Access Memories’ is easily the best record of this decade, although I think that will probably be controversial.
I guess that Daft Punk have been pushing boundaries since before they were even Daft Punk and I know that some of you will hate this, particularly the inclusion of ‘Get Lucky’ but here is my Imaginary Compilation for them.
Make Love (from Human After All, 2005)
As I said early, ‘Human After All’ was commercial and critically panned, it only took six weeks to record and is apparently ‘pure improvisation’. Most of the critics at the time said that it sounded ‘cheap’. ‘Make Love’ sounds like it was included on the album by mistake – I love the way it fades in and out and seem shorter than it is. The barely audible lyric –‘make love’ repeated over again, then the slow motion guitar and that lovely low murmuring piano.
Digital Love (from Discovery, 2001)
On this track Daft Punk took the chorus to heart and made their own dreams come true. The story behind the album ‘Discovery’ is that Daft Punk were trying to make an album that transported the listener back to a young age, about that feeling you get when you listen to music, different music, as a child, before you worry about being judged for liking something. ‘Digital Love’ does that better than anything else on the album.
Rollin & Scratchin (from Homework, 1997)
A song best described as an aural battery. A song that squeals away so much that it almost tortures you. The complete other side of Daft Punk, an acid house frenzy that sounds like the noise you get if you mess around with the AM settings on your old wireless radios. It is a sound that can also be heard in the next track…
Contact (from Random Access Memories, 2013)
I love the sample at the start of this. There is a simple beat and then an astronaut talking about the ‘bright object’ that ‘rotating because its flashing’ and then the final bit ‘there’s something out there’. So not only have Daft Punk released the greatest record of the last ten years or so, they have also managed to convince NASA to let them use a transcript from Apollo 17 (incidentally NASA say that the astronaut was referring to a discarded rocket). The song itself is a bit like a star exploding – a synthesizer that spins faster and faster that creates a noise so intense that actually you look forward to the song breaking and fizzling out to a close.
Giorgio By Moroder (from Random Access Memories, 2013)
To some, listening to disco and electro pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder relates his early life experience and music inspirations over nine minutes of zooming space funk complete with piano solos and strings and ‘clicks’ is probably not their idea of a good time. To me, it is utterly utterly essential. Damn Fine.
Harder Better Faster Stronger (from Discovery, 2001)
I find it quite upsetting to think that there will be a generation of people who heard ‘Harder, Better, faster, Stronger’ first on Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ and didn’t know it was a Daft Punk song. That needs rectifying. I was at Glastonbury when Yeezus started with it and I just wanted to Daft Punk to come out and say ‘SURPRISE’ – and then that Frankenstein vocal and that jittery cymbal crash in.
Around The World (from Homework, 1997)
Even though it’s ridiculous, “Around The World” goes hard. Its one hell of a record – That bass line heard that heavily borrows from Chic’s “Good Times”. That occasional sweep of a jet taking off. The mummies and skeletons and synchronized swimmers in the music video, and ultimately a melody focused on the repetition of the phrase “around the world” (up to 144 times in the original) all underline a track so effective in its simplicity and just pure Daft Punk.
Da Funk (from Homework, 1997)
Staying with the First Album – watch the video – its insane – but it is the best way to get to grips with the track. A guy trying to do the normal things, like buy books, get on a bus but can’t. Not because of the animatronic dog mask but because of the massive stereo that won’t stop playing. Is it a dream? – the alarm clock at the end suggests that, but again, this is a track held together by one simple infectious riff. The first Daft Punk I heard and I was hooked from then.
Get Lucky (from Random Access Memories, 2013)
The first million selling record of the decade I think. A record that is so good I can remember where I was when I first heard it. For me, Nile Rodgers makes it with that genre humping technique that he has that never gets tired. Pharrell has never sounded better either, and even manages that line about cruising to legend of the phoenix without chuckling. It was about three minutes in to this that I decided that Daft Punk were my favourite band ever.
One More Time (from Discovery, 2001)
I’ll end with perhaps Daft Punks most iconic moment. The late great Romanthony sings his way through this infectious slice of brilliance. His voice sounds perfect over the throb of that beat. ‘One More Time’ is utterly irresistible. As it states throughout it ‘We’re gonna celebrate all night’ – who can say no to that. Totally wonderful right down to the church bells that end it.
mp3 : Daft Punk – Make Love
mp3 : Daft Punk – Digital Love
mp3 : Daft Punk – Rollin’ & Scratchin’
mp3 : Daft Punk – Contact
mp3 : Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder
mp3 : Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger
mp3 : Daft Punk – Around The World
mp3 : Daft Punk – Da Funk
mp3 : Daft Punk – Get Lucky
mp3 : Daft Punk – One More Time