There are those who ride the waves of a scene, and there are those who create a new scene in the first place. Daft Punk have always been the latter, particularly in the formative years surrounding their debut album, Homework.
Listen to Homework here
Scrappy, raw and experimental
Few musical acts have changed so much between albums as Daft Punk did in the four years between the release of Homework, on 20 January 1997, and its follow-up, Discovery. Reinvention is often the key to longevity in music, but it usually comes after years of exhausting the same tried and tested formula. For Daft Punk, however, their first two albums feel like the works of entirely different artists: meticulously detailed and polished, Discovery was stuffed with instant classics that aimed for the big leagues. Homework, however, represents everything that’s exciting about the best debut albums: scrappy, raw and experimental, it perfectly captured the spirit of Daft Punk’s live sets in their early years, with tracks mixing into each other perfectly, building and maintaining energy as if tooled for a club appearance.
Video footage from a live show in Wisconsin, in 1996, demonstrates this perfectly. Claiming to be the earliest evidence of Daft Punk on stage, there isn’t a mirror ball or robot mask in sight. Aesthetically, it could be any boiler-room gig – a small audience going wild as Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo rip through their set with absolute conviction. Sonically, it’s a wild ride: the beat is the only constant; everything else can be thrown in and pulled away again in an instant. Tracks like Homework’s Rock’n Roll, with its pulsating scratch loop, brought the excitement of these shows to listeners’ stereos.