Discovery – 20 Years Later: Elevation On The Dance Floor

Vibrant instrumentals that dive deep into the roots of music that once elevated the dance floor.

Grooves that never stop. And as much as you want it to stop, your hips keep it going. 

These are some of the many reasons we should always remember the dance floor that Discovery began to inhabit, with varying differences from styles and artists at the time.

From the bells tolling and bass lines on the synth-dominated “Aerodynamic,” to the funkadelic “Harder, Better, Faster,” made it more conventional for artists to dive deeper into their sonic roots. “Night Vision” delivers a melodic uptic in the robotic kinesis that made their image more profound. They incorporate a sample of the guitar riffs that embody 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” into this lowly embodiment of melodic themes in their music, which you can also hear further in decadent “Something About Us.”

Daft Punk bridged a divide that genres have been doing forever – like the shift from a dominant traditional pop – doo-wop hybrid to the more orchestrated and dynamic sounds of rock and roll. They created a bridge centered on the sensationalization in the production of disco/dance-club hits from Billy Ocean and Haddaway and the complexities of the synchronization within rock and roll, specifically from the new wave, pop/art rock and funkadelic areas to weave the sounds we hear on Discovery.

“One More Night,” bursts with disco flair as it evolves the bassline sample from the Eddie Johns track “More Spell On You.” And “Digital Love,” brings a soulful elevation with the sampled keys from George Duke’s “I Love You More.” There are varying samples that elevate the framework exponentially on the album that further down the line electronic music would find ways to make grandeur in their own way.

For Daft Punk, this brought an element of authenticity to their music. The live instrumentations brought some inner respect from the musicheads and loose cannons, while the disco and electronic sounds brought in the younger crowd nostalgic for a time they never lived in. The various instruments envelop the production’s essence in being different. 

This cohesion of sounds created, between the various samples and instrumentals, a hidden norm that allowed many electronic artists to bridge their own gap in pop trends by working with popular artists, both globally and nationally within the United States. This made it easier for the genre to create their own hybrids and start new trends that effervescently grow, like dubstep and folktronica to name a few. A lot of the electronic music in the new age has shifted in many directions and allowing new sounds to be discovered, like the glitch-hop electronic sound of the artist Machinedrum.

Upon the time of Discovery music wasn’t that far off from still the being nostalgic of disco era. A lot of pop records would use isolated sounds and styles to influence the bigger stage. But for most it was less funkadelic and more synth, percussion, and vocal heavy, the latter of which is the reason we get simple lines stuck in our head. So the way Daft Punk shifted some the conventions of the music’s height into new sounds that elevated dance floors globally.

This was Daft Punk’s main contribution in Discovery to the ever growing genre in the US, along with music from artists like Fatboy Slim and The Chemical Brothers, whose big beat sounds has some resonance of the boom-bap percussion of hip-hop and the electronic sounds weaving them into a strong universal club song that can be played almost anywhere. 

So while other artists, like Four Tet, evoked more dialogue in the live jazz and R&B overtones and undertones, they were not dominant names in the club scene in the United States. If you’re walking through Europe in 90s, you’d find people who would know the greatness of artists like Jaydee and Basement Jaxx, while the US you’d find the more vocal-centric work as people are more likely to remember a catchy vocal flow than intricate instrumentations of 1993’s Plastic Dreams by Dutch DJ Jaydee and the 1999 album Remedy by Basement Jaxx.

The thing was that a lot of the electric music that crossed bridges here were not like the aforementioned artists, with some of the more popular club songs being like ATC’s (A Touch of Class) “All Around The World (La La La)” or Eiffel 65’s “Blue.” Eurodance was already a hot commodity here that it was easy to pass those barriers with their simple – electric sounds. This pop standing eventually got the boost from American pop stars like Madonna and Cher, who had two monstrous albums at the end of the 90s, especially Cher and her notable club hit “Believe.”

Allowing them to slowly introduce American audiences to the kind of sounds to expect from these artists from across the sea. We are so mental about having something (in music) that we can repeat vocally that it allows for a melody to stick with instrumentals in our head. But when it is just the instrumentals can make it harder from the detailed layers.

Discovery did not shy away from this and they effectively weaved it into songs “Digital Love,” and “Superhero,” they let the instrumental patterns create that catchy musical memory. The vocals they added on these tracks are finely tuned to with high-pitch distorted vocalizations, that sound more natural the ways artists mostly used autotune on their records.

These stacking sonic elements of Discovery brought about a variety of influential trends in many genres we see today, and specifically the pop genre. They adapted main archetypes of disco into a unique hybrid that sound modern, but at the same time able to camouflage if you were to play it in 1976.

At the end of the day, Discovery can simply be described as one of the most accessible and inspirational albums of the genre that cemented a name for the two robots. It brought new ears to a popular genre in Europe that weren’t glued to cheesy pop overtures and instead let the synths and bass take you away through the colorful dance floor. It is by no means a perfect album either. It’s hard for an album to be objectively perfect, but there is beauty behind the imperfections.

The Digital Love playlist is a culmination of some amazing electronic music, new and old, for you to sink your mind and ears into.

Thank You Daft Punk

Daft Punk’s growth and prominence in the Electronic music world has never been mentioned without acknowledging the influence they had on EDM (electronic dance music). Though house music had a huge resurgence in Europe in the latter half of the 2000s, Daft Punk never took a back seat and continued their own evolution as artists. The same way I did, as I grew with the cultural sounds of different music eras as I tried to fit in with other groups. I was musically raised on Spanish Pop, Pop, Disco, and Hip-Hop, now my ears are keen on sounds and the music I further pursue (go listen) always has remnants of those influences within. That is why I gravitated a lot to the two robots. They understood what I liked, and it was great that you liked the same, even if you are two french musicians and I’m some music nerd from New Jersey.

Daft Punk’s albums are unique and bright in their own ways. Discovery and Random Access Memories are elegant masterpieces that will always stand the test of time, but they were more than just that. Their disco-funk centric electronic sound bled everywhere that their hands would touch.

Daft Punk was always there to fill that void of eclectic and vibrant dance music. From “Hypnotize U,” to “Starboy,” and “I Feel It Coming,” the world never felt as empty since you’d be there to keep the dance floor grooving.  And when if we weren’t grooving we were listening to your amazing co-productions on Yeezus and co-writing on Pharrell Williams’ song “Gust of Wind.”

I find it bittersweet looking back and seeing that “I Feel It Coming” with The Weeknd was their last single, released. One of my first loves in music was Disco-Pop and it ends on high note with a glamorous gem Disco-Pop hit from the duo.

Thank you for all the music. You’ve given us fans a lot and though it may be the end of an era, your music will continue to reach past the stars for eons.

The Weeknd Delivers a Nauseatingly Beautiful Performance Behind the Madness.

When it comes to one of the biggest performances of the year, The Super Bowl Halftime Show, it’s hard to command a stage without any sort of “special” guests. Lady GaGa did so, Prince and Beyonce as well, as the latter two were influences on The Weeknd and how he’d present himself, amongst other things. And now he stands alongside them since he delivers a career defining performance. 

The performance opens with The Weeknd in a car centered on the streets of a gritty Las Vegas night, before he departs and ascends behind these holy lit doors performing “Starboy,” off Starboy. He descends the musical madness by giving us a triumphant performance revolved around the horrors of addiction. The performance leads us through a hall of mirrors, full of clones in bandage masks before The Weeknd walks down on stage with an army of clones and caps the performance with the monstrous hit “Blinding Lights.”

The cynicism within the party like destruction of his lyricism and the futuristic aesthetic that he implements mesh with elegance. The resulting sets, like the cyberpunk-ish choir/violinist stands and the hall of mirrors are representative of the many undercutting themes from his most recent music videos.

The Weeknd mentioned in the past that the reasoning behind the facial work aesthetic was to demonstrate this over relying necessity to please the world physically. Beauty is seen in the outer and not the inner for the luxuries one needs and The Weeknd demonstrates that through the disorienting choreography and camera work during “Can’t Feel My Face,” and after. It represent that notion and more in a way, only The Weeknd can for the kind of performance was expected and eventually delivered.

The cavalcade of songs he performed took us through the history of his greatest hits from House of Balloons to the more recent After Hours. Fortunately for The Weeknd all the hits he performed were significant turning points in his career where his sounds began to involve so effervescently. The visual aesthetic, at times, is a detachment from the ultra violent and mustard-like neon yellow that have been a consistent feature on his music visuals, due to the PG nature of the telecast. It was definitely another hump for them to climb over and the presentation represents a smooth sailing transition from paper to stadium. 

The intro carries some slight boring and tedious focus for like a minute or two, but the momentum continues as the performance does. Good thing it doesn’t act a deterrent since it is setting up the scene for The Weeknd to ascend.

Oneothrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) was the musical director for the performance. And with that knowledge you could definitely see the influence stylistically, but it leaves you in wonderment about how a non “PG,” show would look like. Either way, the performance was more than expected and definitive middle finger to the Academy for the snubs, as they will miss out on another show-stopping and powerhouse performance from the R&B/Pop Superstar.

Check Out The Performance Below!

Madlib – Sound Ancestors: Review

Through the years many producers in Hip-Hop try to make a name for themselves by adding little quibbles in their opening stamp, like DJ Mustard’s “Mustard On The Beat Hoe.” Not everyone can make a new by following new trends. But for others, the true elegance comes from those who go through harrowing quietness and establishing themselves by their work and not plays. Madlib is one of the many who let the music speak more than telling the world who you are. His new album Sound Ancestor continues to show his elegance, with help from UK DJ/Musician Four Tet, as he takes his style to the future with an array of hip-hop/electronic hybrid tracks that cement his status as one of the greats.

When Kieran Hebden, or known better by his moniker Four Tet, was dropping a lot of work on YouTube through the pandemic, one thing came out worthy of note. And that was the news that he was working on a new album with producer MadLib. Four Tet’s time during the turn-of-the-century post IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) for the electronic music genre is heavily influential. His keen live instrumentation always enveloped one of the idiosyncrasies of his music, as one of the progressive artists at the time. 

So by bringing him into the fold with Madlib’s Jazz Hip-Hop – Sampledelic style is an odd pairing, but they make it work by never steering toward accessibility before reaching an Avant-Garde direction like the latin-music flare in the track “Latino Negro.” It’s embodiment of the Latin esoteric guitars and the lush and stagnant noise from the drum patterns.

After the initial taste in the intro’s simple high string keys and synth singularities, Sound Ancestors begins to take the melodic tones of Four Tet and makes a potent atmospheric undercurrent on the bombastic percussion center of the first few tracks. This is all before it gets to the lush and subtle stars that twinkle within the electronic currents, like on “Riddim Chant.” The illustrious track is embolden by electronic touches in the keys and what sounds like low barring wind chimes. 

These unique touches resonate throughout, even if they come unabashedly subtle, like in the track “New Normal,” which feels like a post mark of an early 2000s era of Boom-Bap-Jazz Hip Hop. And “Chino,” has that grit from a begotten era of New York where the DJ scratches had rule. It’s subtlety is as remarkable as the essence of the Golden Era sound, brought to the modern ages. 

This is why Sound Ancestors’ turn in the third section is where the momentum truly delivers. As the album keeps it rising with the first few tracks, the second half solidifies Madlib’s talent (along with Four Tet). The various sounds they work with are pieces of artistic beauty, especially “Two for 2 – For Dilla,” which acts as a homage to legendary instrumentalist and producer, J Dilla. It delivers a beautifully inspired track that makes great use of its jazz undertones.

Unfortunately at times the middle of the album feels almost like the middle of the road as a collective of notes don’t always hit with the same veracity as the first and third sectors flew out more. There are lowly vocalizations that add to the style and atmosphere and they heighten it further.

Madlib and Four Tet come strong with Sound Ancestors, and it comes as one of the many who have made January 2021 a strong month for music. They bring Jazz-Hip Hop to a new future with lush-overarching electronic coats on the music. The momentum bombastic and distinguishing instrumentations has a bit of a dip, though not enough to downplay the perfect mixing and editing. And that is enough to go back for smooth depth filled listening for any melancholic day at home.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Bicep – Isles: Review

Artists in the electronic genre always have a consistent motif, even when they take the more abstract approach on the lining of their songs. That is predominately the case on the new album Isles by Biceps, a DJ / Electronic music production duo from Ireland. In a way it doesn’t resemble their debut, as the sound generated from their production is more abstract than the fluid and colorful debut Bicep. Though it doesn’t deliver as impactful as their debut, there is a lot to take from Isles even if it is new found appreciation for chillwave-like influences in the sound.

Isles opens to a series of teasers for the later album, as it transitions from these complex orchestrations that express inner grandeur in the mixing and construction. “Atlas,” and “Cazenova,” are evident of that when the two give this sense of adventure, especially the way it shifts from lowly ominous choral interludes, before letting the synth board take over.

The slight brushes painted at times on the tracks, are subtle and enjoyed. It keeps its consistency, even when it lacks brushes of color on the external layers. And in return it drives home a type of modesty that lets them take a slight half-hazard approach.

On the other hand, one of the driving hooks that keep the ears reeling back is the way they sometimes expand and subvert the genre into an abstract form. Cellist Julia Kent does so on “Rever” with the baritone like strings brushing against the main tracking. It weaves this abstract cry of rough chillwave and ambient backing vocals.

But when they ascend into the defining style of the album in the middle of the pack, sans the certain choices in the track “X“ that takes you aback. It isn’t like the smooth electric percussion on “Sundial,” and instead feels too lenient on keeping a cohesive combination, interloping with the stagnant synths and xylophones that does not go anywhere beyond the “simplest” of forms.

It definitely took me for a spin as it didn’t feel resonate to the smooth construct the opening few tracks have.

However Isles doesn’t evolve beyond moments of grandeur into a nonsensical bombastic, and that allows it to keep composure. More so than the external layers of “Saku,” featuring Clara La San. The mainline electronic sounds shift between depth and minimalism as Clara delivers this somber and effective R&B like vocals. Unlike whatever she does on “X” that is nonsensical. Lucky for us its the only real “huh?” moment.

Isles is a solid release for the Irish duo, even when it isn’t profound as their debut. It’s a good direction to see them in, and further implicating another mainstay in the genre for years to come.

Rating: 7 out of 10.