It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that dance music entered a brave new world on February 26, 2001, when Daft Punk released their second album. ‘Discovery’ is one of the most important dance music releases of this, or any era; a record that anticipated the digital music age, the pivotal importance of video content and the growth of the online fan club; a record that sounded like nothing else and yet helped to usher in both EDM and the subsequent soft rock boom.
'Discovery’, like many truly great albums, was hard to understand at first. It moved on the Daft Punk sound in ways that initially sounded preposterous, bringing guitar licks, yacht rock, gilded vocal effects, baroque pop, dissolving electro beats and — will someone think of the children? — Barry Manilow samples to a world that was unprepared for their impact. The first time many fans heard ‘Discovery’, they were perhaps more bemused than impressed, unsure if they even understood, let alone liked, the new direction that the band was going in.
Evidently, this writer wasn’t the only one paying attention to ‘Discovery’. For a time, soft rock samples became commonplace in dance music, imbuing songs such as Armand van Helden’s ‘My My My’ (which samples rocker Gary Wright’s ‘Comin’ Apart’) and Eric Prydz’s ‘Call On Me’ (based on Steve Winwood’s 1982 MOR classic ‘Valerie’) with a little of ‘Discovery’s hard-polished soul.
Can it really be coincidence that a song entitled ‘Too Long’ is, in fact, too long?
Then there was Daft Punk themselves. In the run up to ‘Discovery’’s release, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo took on the guise of robots, pretending that the flesh and blood members of Daft Punk had been injured in a studio accident. At the time it seemed slightly ridiculous, a fun trick that would be jettisoned when the band’s next album cycle came around.