My old copy of Daft Punk’s Discovery has been with me for a little more than 10 years now, and every single time I come back to it is not only out of nostalgia, it is still very well ranked in my all-time personal Top 10 albums. How can that be possible? Can a House / Electronic album be something more than just a few upbeat tunes that you forget a few months later and never return to it? Short answer: Yes.
The long answer however involves me giving you a detailed account of how complex and at the same time accessible this album is once you spend a reasonable amount of time with it. Discovery is not an acquired taste though, you will pretty much end up loving it very quickly, but something very particular about it is that you will learn it through different phases. I will not disclose an arbitrary order or number for them because it would be a completely subjective and useless exercise, but eventually you will find out for yourself.
Being an old album chances are that at some point you were exposed to many of the single tracks that came out of it, which are extremely enjoyable by themselves, but is only when you taste the whole thing that you discover the intricate story and how everything is somehow connected and fits like a puzzle. Actually you might have heard of something called Interstella 5555, an animated movie that happens to be a visual realization of Discovery.
Daft Punk’s signature loops and sampling are all over the place here, and through the years I’ve found several people who dismissed their music on the premise that the electronic genre and specifically Daft Punk music is repetitive, tiresome and monotone. If only they knew what they are missing out… You see, there’s so much more than a looping melody and random pieces of another songs mixed together to make a completely different new song, that’s the beauty of something like this album, and it’s a shame that many people never get to see it. Yes, it’s not a secret that many of the songs featured here are looping sequences, but hey, who said that it can’t be done in style and create something fun and at the same time feel fulfilling?
The album itself is a very entertaining and joyful ride, most of the songs are easy recognizable and are carefully placed. You get most of the highly energetic right at the beginning, it keeps the momentum way past the first 20 minutes, and is actually on those first 20 minutes where you find the most memorable tracks, such as the now classic One More Time, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, or the equally energetic and surprisingly powerful Aerodynamic. But the fun isn’t over once you get past that point, it is actually just the beginning for the most surprising part of the album: the stuff you usually never got to listen on the radio.
I have always considered High Life to be the gate for the secret and most exciting part of Discovery. It is mostly a 3 minute loop that no matter how many times you have listened to it before, it never gets old. It gives way to one of the songs that I would classify as part of the soundtrack of my life, Something About Us, it is just beautiful, so honest and so easy to relate to. But if you thought that it couldn’t get any better, Voyager and Veridis Quo take just where the previous left, and they raise the emotional journey even further. Even the less ambitious Short Circuit near the end feels impregnated by the magic that has been built by the momentum, and it fades out in an intriguing way just to let Face To Face seal the deal and round up a magnificent experience, to say the least. I wouldn’t be lying if I say that it almost feels like a religious experience (without the religious stuff, of course).
For some reason, some years ago I had this weird vision of this lonely man-made space probe traveling into distant and unknown worlds (yeah, that vision has something to do with the actual Voyager program of the 1970s if someone was wondering). I don’t know at which point I started thinking that Voyager was actually inspired by the early space exploration achievements. I can’t listen to Voyager (and also Veridis Quo) without having that picture on my mind, and now that I think about it, is not so difficult to imagine, the whole track evokes some out-of-this-world sensation. Just wanted to share this nonsense that has been in my mind for years now.
I can’t pick a single favorite track from this album, because it is so well made and the balance achieved is just genius. I would recommend this album not just for those few who haven’t listened it before (I mean, have they been living under a rock?), I would recommend this as a general culture exercise for everyone. This has to be one of those few albums that you need to listen before you die.