Some music groups became legends in time and after a while, others like Daft Punk built their own legend since the first album. Now 20 years after the first album they are back and damn… it is really good. Flashback.
The origins of Daft Punk
It all started in 1987 when Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Emmanuel de Homem-Christo met in high school in Paris. They started doing some samples and doing music together.
In 1991, with Laurent Brancowitz (later the leading guitar of Phoenix) they founded Darlin’. We can say everything went very fast at that time. As soon as the group was formed, they record 2 singles: Darlin’, a cover from The Beach Boys, and Cindy So Loud under the english label Duophonic. But the way things started fast it also ended up fast. Indeed the group did not find the success hoped. They only sold 1’500 records.
The british magazine, Melody Maker, ended up the story with the comment about their music: “Daft Punky trash”, basically idiot punk. The magazine itself could not imagine that they just gave the right motivation to Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo to move on and make their own music. In 1993, the 2 friends create Daft Punk.
What is very interesting to understand here is that at this very same time, a new stream from House music is born in France. Called the “French Touch” or French House, the defining characteristics of this specific sound are heavy reliance on filter and phaser effects both on and alongside samples from late 1970s and early 1980s American or European disco tracks. It ruled the european scene from 1990 to 2000. The key ambassadors of this music stream was Daft Punk, Cassius and Etienne de Crecy. Most tracks in this vein feature steady 4/4 beats with a tempo range of 110–130 bpms.
Soon the Daft Punk adopted a very distinctive look thanks to their helmets. They tell a story that one day they were doing the DJ and the material explosed in order to become their helmed. Not so sure about that story. What we do know is that these 2 helmets became the central attraction of all.
Some people will say that they use the helmets because they are sad, others imagine the Daft Punk retired and other people would take over. Basically there are many descriptions. Here a short flashback into the Daft Punk discography.
1997 – First album called HOMEWORK
Released by Virgin records in january 1997, This first album was a huge blast into the electronic scene. 16 songs and not less than 5 singles extracted from it: Alive, Da Funk, Burnin, Revolution 909 and the planetary huge blockbuster Around the world, . This album brought the spotlights to all french house and the world knew that Daft Punk was born. According to Virgin the original plan was to print only 50’000 copies… well, after almost 3 million copies later we can see that the success over crossed all ambitions of that time.
Here is the video clip for Around the world. It became a major club hit around the world and arrived at #1 in dance charts. The song is known for its only lyrics being “Around the World”. It is also known for its music video, which was directed by Michel Gondry and choreographed by Blanca Li.
First world tour for the Daft Punk from October to December 1997. This tour defined what we would call the “Daft Punk sound”, a edgy filtered House. Here is one of the rare TV appearence of the group (without masks) in 1999 on the Swiss magazine Lineup. The video is provided by Breew. Unique! French language.
2001 – The second album called DISCOVERY
In 2001 Daft Punk launches their first Live album called Alive 1997 with only one 43 minutes track without pause. And just after that the album DISCOVERY is born. 14 tracks and this time 6 singles: One more time, Aerodynamic, Digital Love, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. , Face to Face and Something about us. According to Thomas Bangalter:
“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...”
The album provided itself the entire soundtrack for the animation movie called Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Directed by Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Captain Harlock. This movie was silent, with no dialogs a part the music itself. If you want to remember this amazing project, here is the full video in HD of it:
Discovery sold for more than 2.6 million albums, only 792’ooo copies in the USA. It is a huge worldwide success and the single “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” was a tremendous hit. It was also the exploration of a robotic vocal performance by Daft Punk that became their signature. In 2003 the group releases an album of remixes from their previous albums Homework and Discovery. Remixes were accomplished by Basement Jaxx, Slum Village and Daft Punk.
2005 – The third album called HUMAN AFTER ALL
This third album was launched in march 2005 with 4 official singles: Robot Rock, Technologic, Human After All and The Prime time of Your Life. Despite the aim of the group to declare their human side with the album title, we realize that songs like The Prime Time of Your Life, Television Rules the Nation or Technologic claim a escapism towards a complete dehumanization of human kind. You can see it here in the official video for Technologic:
With this album, Daft Punk got many critics from the music industry but also from the fans. Considered as not as innovative as the previous ones, some of the tracks were quite repetitive. The entire album was recorded in only 6 weeks and it is considered by Daft Punk themselves as their preferred. They got a very interesting visibility with the single Technologic thanks to Apple’s Ipod advertising. At that time all Apple ipod commercials were created with a highly innovative background music never heard, never seen, basically Apple was at that time the King of the cool. Check here the commercial with the Daft Punk soundtrack.
In 2006 they present at the french Cannes Film festival their first movie called Daft Punk’s Electroma. The pitch revolves around the quest of two robots (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich) to become human. The music featured in this film is not by Daft Punk. The movie did not received great critics and during the projection at Cannes Festival, some people even left the room before the end. The soundtrack had some great names like Brian Eno or Sébastien Tellier. In 2007 you could only watch this movie in one cinema in Paris (France) and in one cinema. Here is the entire film if you wish to watch it.
June 2007, Daft Punk records a live album called Alive 2007 and it is released in november of the same year. 12 songs all from previous albums and all remixed for the live show. They will get a Grammy later on for this album.
2008, TRON LEGACY – The soundtrack.
For the sequel of the legendary TRON, movie released in 1982 and considered as the first movie in history to use computer effects, Daft Punk were chosen to create the soundtrack. Launched in December 2010, a couple of month before the movie release, the album was recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo commented that “We knew from the start that there was no way we were going to do this film score with two synthesizers and a drum machine.”
Here is the official presentation of Derezzed from the motion picture Tron Legacy:
2013, the 4th album called RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES
If we consider that Human After All was the previous “real album” from Daft Punk, it’s been 8 years. A lot. With Random Access Memories, Daft Punk are back with a powerful album. It pays the tribute to the sound of the 70’s and the 80’s era in the USA, especially the sounds from Los Angeles. From country rock in the 70’s (Eagles) towards more rock with Fleetwood mac up to all the punk rock influence that set up the beginning of the grunge of 90’s, the west coast was definitely different from what was going on at that time in New York, Atlanta, Chicago or Detroit. Unlike their previous studio albums, Daft Punk recruited session musicians to record live instrumentation in professional studio locations. The duo limited the use of electronic instruments to drum machines, a modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders. So a kind of back to basics for Daft Punk. Several collaborations are to mention like Pharrell Williams, Panda Bear, Julian Casablancas, Todd Edwards, DJ Falcon, Chilly Gonzales, Paul Williams and to mention Nile Rodgers (Chic) and the synthetiser god Giorgio Moroder. The first one played the guitar in many tracks like Give Life Back to Music, Lose Yourself to Dance or Get Lucky (the first single). The song number 3 in the album is called Giorgio by Moroder. was a collaboration with Giorgio Moroder. It tells the story of Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, the father of Transe music and one of the responsibles to bring the synthetiser into music. He wrote the soundtrack of amazing movies like Scarface, Metropolis or the folowing leading him to award recognition:
- Oscar in 1973 for Midnight Express soundtrack
- Golden Globe for best original song in 1983 for Flashdance theme.
- Oscar and Golden Globe for best original song for Top Gun (Take my breath away)
Here is the extended video from the Midnight Express movie theme. You will be able to see how logical the work with Daft Punk is.
What can we say more? That we are so pleased to see Daft Punk back in force. Only they could release such sound in 2013 and we are happy they did it. You can find the album here:
There is also a dedicated website in which you can watch several videos showing the different collaborators to the album. You can see it here: http://www.randomaccessmemories.com
It was worth it to wait 8 years to a fresh sound.
Info sourced at the group website, last.fm, wikipedia and daily press. All content is copyrighted and no reproduction rights are available.