After a long hiatus from The Mic's Classics Revisited series, Lucy Gray starts the series off again by revisiting Homework by Daft Punk.
Amongst the world of DJs, it’s difficult to say whether any artist has had as poignant an impact as Daft Punk. Coining the term ‘French Touch’, these masterful DJs shaped the dance industry as we know it today and inspired many beloved artists to inspire new waves of dance. The variations of influence demonstrate how diverse the layers within Daft Punk’s mastery have been. The two were able to bring the complexities of repetitive dance beats into the mainstream and inject it with something special; something that could translate to millions in a new way. Transcending their own sound and confines, Daft Punk’s mainstream appeal transcended beyond the occasional polarity of the genre, tapping into something universally accessible through funky-house.
Their debut album Homework was released 25 years ago and stands as a cornerstone of dance culture. Incredibly unique and nuanced tracks translated to a notable career for the duo as well as a new direction for the industry, shaping the way artists formulated their work for years seceding the duo’s birth. The mainstream appeal of the duo’s earlier discography cannot be ignored, although it might be considered to garner more acquired tastes, to this day even. Many of the album's tracks play on static, unrefined, and what you might call robot-grunge like sounds, particularly Rollin’ & Scratchin. Even the slightly more refined singles, like Around The World, do not completely lose this element, and rightfully so. That’s where the charm is found.
"Mixes of evocative funk, street influences, and house"
Homework provided the world with a palatable introduction to this new techno funk. It also responded to the demand for more of what the lead singles had evoked. Da Funk provided the world with its first introduction to the duo’s approach to dance music; mixes of evocative funk, street influences, and house. A simple piece that seems at its surface to have little to it, yet it summarises the attraction of dance wholeheartedly. Camouflaging carefully crafted nuance, Da Funk gained widespread mainstream appeal, which seems an impressive feat for a purely instrumental track. It’s also no wonder that the title of this track plays on the duo’s name, a cheeky nod perhaps to the fact this duo knew they were onto a new approach to dance/funk.
Of the more popular singles, Around The World became an immediate staple, being easily recognisable to this day. With a video accompaniment that saw robotic choreography represent different elements of the tracks musicianship, the video nods towards the very soul of funk and the body grooves it elicits. Simply, it’s a really cool video. It’s also here that we see Daft Punk really embody the ‘robot’ image they are so known for, another physical image of the sounds they use, which are for the most part layered with short synths and percussive drum samples. For an artist to sky-rocket into the music sphere after just two singles was arguably foreshadowing what would be the duo’s longstanding membership within music’s hall of fame.
I remember in my early teens discovering the early discography of Daft Punk, around the time of their soul/funk revival with Random Access Memories. I was completely obsessed with these albums and hadn’t heard anything like it, and this was late into their already established career. I’m inclined to say this speaks more to their truly unique craft, one that could not quite be mimicked anywhere else. Their sound is so purely theirs, marking once again, the mortal DJ hands in their possession.
"to provide something with, arguably, even more mainstream appeal, solidified the pair as the industry’s latest benchmark of music innovation for decades to come."
Homework was successfully seceded by Discovery, another notable era in Daft Punk’s discography. This perhaps went some way in establishing the duo’s notoriety, not the least for exceeding industry expectations following a phenomenal debut album with an on par, if not even better, second album. The success of going further with their musicianship and marrying the charm of Homework to provide something with, arguably, even more mainstream appeal, solidified the pair as the industry’s latest benchmark of music innovation for decades to come.
Edited by: Roxann Yus
Featured image courtesy of Daft Punk via Facebook