20 years of ‘Homework’: some things about Daft Punk

Daft Punk's 'Homework'

Party! Though everyone is speaking this week about Daft Punk because it's now twenty years since 'Homework', their debut album, and could be boring, I'm going to do the same. But oh, wait, I'm not going to tell you I was then their hugest fan, because in 1997 I was just complaining about the slow but ruthlessly inevitable disappearance of Grunge.

From the point of view of a nihilist teenager, always angry with the world, who just wanted to listen to noisy drums and electric guitars, guys like those from Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy were quite like clowns. They didn't make genuine music, they were just making a scene due to their lack of talent, they were just a marketing product for masses.

Keith Flint of The Prodigy on stage July 1996

Daft Punk on the beach

Daft Punk on the beach

But soon afterwards Daft Punk emerged. It could have been another Electronic Music or Electronica-Rock fusion product, but it wasn't. There was a mystique around that new product at the end of the nineties that smelled different. I never saw them on 1997, but later, when they released 'Discovery'. They were two mysterious unknown French guys playing their

machine drums, synthesizers and samples pretending to be some kind of robots. They did not appear in public, not even in their own music videos; reneged on the music industry and kept strict control over all the music they produced. Pop artists are stars, they can't afford to do that: Daft Punk had a status more common to artists coming from Rock music. The duo doesn't really need to work and doesn't like pressure at all: they have toured just a pair of times: in 1997 and in 2007. Fans expected them to tour in 2017, but time goes by with no news from them.

JMJ's 'Oxygene' (1976)

JMJ's 'Oxygene'

Thomas and Guy-Man

Thomas and Guy-Man

'Homework' was an album made in precarious circumstances. Jean Michel Jarre recorded 'Oxygene' in 1976 with just two synthesizers; two decades later, Daft Punk record 'Homework' with just a drum machine and some samplers and synthesizers. The simplicity of the tools they used is noticeable to the first listen. For example, the briefness of the loops used to develop almost every track, which converts the final result into a mantra. Or Daft Punk's irresistible attraction by the sonorous dirt, obvious then and now, which definitely puts them far away from those other Electronica bands and closer to the Punk wave. They couldn't have another name, they are Daft Punk. They came from a Rock environment and they tried in 1997 to use their electronic machines... just to play Rock.

They succeeded. I could be wrong, but time has proven that 'Homework', unlike another electronic experiments from the nineties, was actually the stark exhibition of something that was possible but nobody had had the audacity nor the courage to put up until then.

 As Andrew Unterberger said on Billboard, 'Daft Punk dreamed of a future in which Electronic Music simply was Rock'.

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