When a Discovery is not a Discovery

I think I hate Daft Punk.

Or at least heavily resent them. “Discovery”, their second album by came out in March 2001 and I instantly dismissed it as sounding too over produced, smug and facetious, but above all, too concerned with what Wikipedia describes as “…disco, post-disco, garage house and synthpop-inspired house…”. Namely all the facets of dance I hold to be most cheesy, contemptible and, above all, moribund. I mean; disco? Seriously?

It was only at the end of the decade after I’d spent years wondering why dance music as a genre had lost its edge; why all my favourite acts seemed to have had died out one by one; each putting out their respective best ofs in succession…

Work 1989–2002
Released: June 2002

Chemical Brothers
Singles 93–03
Released: 22 September 2003

Released: November 3, 2003

Groove Armada
The Best of Groove Armada
Released: 2004

Basement Jaxx
Basement Jaxx: The Singles
Released: 21 March 2005

The Prodigy
Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005
Released: 17 October 2005

A Final Hit: Greatest Hits
Released: 2005

Fatboy Slim
The Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder
Released: 19 June 2006

…That I really questioned why? How had this happened? These acts didn’t stop being great producers of innovative and arresting ideas. It was at the end of the decade when everyone was writing their lists of Best of the Decade that I kept noticing with increased annoyance that the only dance album featured was “Discovery”. Everyone banged on about it: Q magazine wrote that the album… “transcends the dance label”; Mixmag credited Daft Punk for “altering the course of dance music for the second time”; NME found its pop art ideas enthralling and credited Daft Punk for “re-inventing the mid-’80s as the coolest pop era ever.”

Well, I’m sorry, but it didn’t transcend, it regressed; it changed the course of dance music in a bad way and the 80’s were never, ever, the coolest era for anything.

The sound of the vocoder (which gave way to the ubiquitous auto-tune motif in dance and electro music throughout the rest of the noughties and, let us not forgot; fucking Glee) caused everyone to drop what they were doing and build a track around it.

The problem was that no one seemed to be as good with it as Daft Punk and even their follow up was widely more of the same, just not as good. Daft Punk had changed what people wanted from dance music and no one was interested it anything my favourite acts could produce, which is why they all turned to the live circuit or to scoring feature films (Daft Punk included).

And this why I resent them. Especially as they now seem to have dropped much of the electronica and fully embraced authentic sounding disco. If I wanted that I’d listen to disco-era tunes. I need something much more progressive in my studio-produced dance music and I just wish there was the market for it that existed before Daft Punk helped people realise that dance music could be just like it was in the 70s and the 80s and not threatening, or challenging or y’know, interesting…

2 thoughts on “When a Discovery is not a Discovery”

  1. Perhaps this new track (and promised album) from Boards of Canada will cheer you? https://soundcloud.com/warp-records/reach-for-the-dead

    And I couldn’t agree more. I actually grew to love Discovery (it took years after massive overplay and over hype) but find their latest work to insipid, bland uninspiring tosh. It comes to something when my favourite pieces of DP’s work are the remixes, by other artists, of the Tron Legacy soundtrack!

  2. Thanks! It’s good to know I’m not the only one, and yes, it’s really good to know that BOC are back and that people seem to be similarly exited about music that actually sounds like it deserves the time and effort spent talking about it!

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