Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cassette experiment day 102 - Daft Punk 'Homework'

It’s the science fiction that I’m really wishing would become science fact. Imagine being able to send someone else to work in your place.
Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and Frank Farian have been toying with the idea for years. Kraftwerk have their robots, Daft Punk will deny until they’re blue in their faces (of course you can’t see their faces) that they’d never send anyone in stage in their stead wearing their distinctive helmets and Frank Farian worked with what turned out to be his alter-egos, ‘Milli Vanilli’ until they were unceremoniously rumbled in a great lip-synching scandal. (Incidentally the deadline to claim your refund for Milli Vanilli recordings and/or concert tickets expired 21 years ago).
If I was going to send someone else to work wearing my shiny helmet I’d choose Danny DeVito. He’s approximately the same build and more than approximately the same disposition to pull the whole thing off with honours.
Daft Punk (or France’s equivalent of The Proclaimers as I like to think of them) are now, after only four albums and one soundtrack, perhaps disputably, the world’s biggest popular musical combo. But it wasn’t always so – sixteen long years ago they released upon the world their debut album, ‘Homework’ which is our cassette experiment subject today.
This is a remarkable album, more for what it foretold than for what it sounds like. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good album but it’s typical of a group that’s going places rather than a one that’s arrived anywhere.
For the most part it’s the mighty ‘Da Funk’ (one of the best pieces of electronic music from the last twenty years) and it’s shorter, reversed little brother ‘Funk Ad’ that tower above everything else here, although ‘Around the World’ does play a creditable second fiddle.
Some of the tracks, sacrilegious as it may sound, tend to go on a bit – ‘Fresh’ for example doesn’t stay particularly fresh for very long. And on a good day ‘Alive’ is a brilliant, thudding, repetitive dance track. And on a bad day it’s a thudding, repetitive dance track. If you can imagine having a basketball bounced off your forehead for 5 mins 15 secs then you’re pretty much there. The fact that I was listening to this while lost in central Leeds with the ring-road closed may partly explain my Danny DeVito-like disposition towards it.
And ‘Oh Yeah’ is good fun but, disappointingly, it isn’t a cover of either of the Roxy Music or Ash tracks of the same name.
Thankfully for all of us, with their next fantastic album ‘Discovery’, Daft Punk got better. And harder. And faster. And stronger.
Label – Virgin
Year – 1997

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