Discovery is the second studio album by the French house duo Daft Punk, released in March 2001. It marks a shift in the sound from Chicago house, which they were previously known for, to disco, post-disco and synthpop-inspired house.
The album provided itself as a soundtrack to the anime film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, which was a collaboration between the creators of the album, Leiji Matsumoto, and Toei Animation. All of the music videos for the tracks on the album are segments of the film. Interstella 5555 follows a story of a kidnapped extraterrestrial band. Discovery is recognized as a concept album in reviews by New Musical Express and Spin magazines. Early versions of the album included a "Daft Club" membership card. The card included a code which granted access to an online music service, which featured tracks later released on the album of the same name and Alive 1997.
According to an interview with Remix Magazine Online, Thomas Bangalter stated:
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. You're not concerned with whether it's cool or not. Sometimes you might relate to just one thing in a song, such as the guitar sound. This album takes a playful, fun, and colorful look at music. It's about the idea of looking at something with an open mind and not asking too many questions. It's about the true, simple, and honest relationship you have with music when you're open to your own feelings.
Leiji Matsumoto supervised the creation of several music videos for Discovery. The videos later appeared as scenes in the feature-length film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. It was created as a collaboration between Matsumoto, Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Toei Animation. The film features the entire album as its soundtrack. Regarding the album from the perspective of animation, Daft Punk stated that, "We think the music we made on Discovery has been done in a cinematic way in our minds. We were visually seeing the music and trying to find ideas that were appealing to people's imagination. An animation fan would find this mixture of elements and story in our music."
A significant amount of sampling is present on the album. Rather than simply creating new music out of the samples, Daft Punk worked with them by writing and adding instrumental performance. 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".
Several websites list many other samples present on the album, but Bangalter has stated that half of the samples listed are not true. He also stated the sampling they do is legitimately done, not something they try to hide. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo estimated that half of the sampled material on Discovery was played live by the duo:
“ I play more guitar usually, and Thomas plays more keyboards and bass. There's no ego involved. We don't argue about who's playing what. You can get the sound of a guitar with a keyboard, or the opposite. We don't really care about who's doing what as long as it's well-done. At the same time, when you use samples, you don't have this problem. When you use a sampler, nobody plays on it, so the problem of the ego of the musician is not really there. For everything that we do, no matter how you get to the results, the important thing is the result. ”
The album features guest appearances by Romanthony, Todd Edwards and DJ Sneak. In regard to working with guest artists, de Homem-Christo stated:
“ We met Romanthony at the 1996 Winter Music Conference and became friends. Before that, we mentioned his name on “Teachers,” thanking him for his influences. We wanted to invite him to sing with us because he makes emotional music. What's odd is that Romanthony and Todd Edwards are not big in the United States at all. Their music had a big effect on us. The sound of their productions, the compression, the sound of the kick drum, and Romanthony's voice… The emotion and soul is part of how we sound today. Because they mean something to us, it was much more important for us to work with them than with other big stars. ”
Giving his take on working with Romanthony and Edwards, Bangalter stated:
“ We wanted to work with Romanthony and Todd Edwards on our first album. They didn't know who we were at the time, so it was very difficult to convince them. When we met Romanthony in Miami, he told us he was very into what we were doing, which made us very happy. They are the house producers who were the biggest influence on us. Working with them was a way for us to close the circle. It was very important for us to do that, because they are part of what we do. Now that we've worked with them, we are free to explore other areas. It will be interesting to see what we'll do next. Now we can work with other people. ”
DJ Sneak also discussed working with Daft Punk on the album:
“ I went to Paris on one trip, got together with the boys and had a private party at the loft house where Thomas had just moved into in a rare form of musical display we decided to make beats in front of a few guests. The next few days we continued to work on the music and I sat back and wrote the lyrics to "Digital Love". I had written other things but this song was very special from the get-go. I also co-produced the music and they polished it and finished a masterpiece. ”
Upon release, critics noted the immediate style differences of Discovery from Homework. The change in aesthetic was a jarring move for fans of Daft Punk's earlier work and initially caused some critics to pan the album. Discovery gained praise in later years; the album ranked #12 in Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–04 and #3 in their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s despite receiving an initial rating of 6.4. In 2009, Rhapsody ranked the album at #12 on its "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list. It was also named the 4th best album of the decade by Resident Advisor. Q rated the album five stars out of five, an unusual occurrence for the magazine. Regarding the album's structure, the magazine Spin noted that, "It feels like a concept album – in this case, the story of how wine-flow disco circumnavigated intellectual pretensions on all sides en route to a temporary utopia that may finally believe in nothing but the boogie but still has the infinite on its mind every minute." NME referred to Discovery as "audaciously weird" and added: "With its famously camera-shy creators now dressing as funkadelic Power Rangers, it is also something of a concept album."
The album peaked at #2 in the United Kingdom and #44 in the United States. Discovery has sold at least 2.6 million copies as of 2005. The album was certified triple platinum in France (in 2007) for shipments denoting 600,000 copies. As a result of sales, Discovery was certified Gold by the RIAA as of October 11, 2010. Two cult hits were spawned from this album: "One More Time" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". The song "Face to Face" (featuring Todd Edwards) reached #1 on the Billboard Club chart in 2004. The album was included on BBC Radio 1's Masterpieces in December 2009 presented by Zane Lowe, further highlighting the progression of the reception of the album and showing how highly regarded the album is amongst fans and fellow dance artists.
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. Wiley's song "Summertime" from the album See Clear Now features a sample of "Aerodynamic". Jazmine Sullivan's song "Dream Big" from the album Fearless features a sample of "Veridis Quo". On February 18, 2011, Trinity Orchestra played the first ever live full orchestral performance of Discovery at Trinity College. The filmed performance became the most watched YouTube video in Ireland on the day of its release.
It really is a very good album
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