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No rules: how Daft Punk's 'Homework' changed dance music forever

The album is 20 years old but its influence hasn't diminished one bit

  • Matthew Collin
  • 20 January 2017

Two decades ago, there were no robots.

The artwork for Daft Punk’s first album, ‘Homework’, released exactly 20 years ago, featured no gleaming android figures; those would come later. Instead there was an embroidered logo on satin, a black-and-white photo of two callow youths performing in a nightclub and cutesy snapshots of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo as toddlers.

But the stylistic obsessions that have remained with them to this day were all discernible back then: vamped-up house and techno grooves, tweaked disco basslines, twinkles of melody and their soon-to-be-trademark flair for an irresistible hook. Tracks like ‘Da Funk’ and ‘Around the World’ were credible enough to bang the party at some of the dankest of basement dives but populist enough to become chart hits.

When ‘Homework’ was released in January 1997, they were both just 22 years old, but it was already clear that among the cluster of French house producers gaining renown at the time, Daft Punk were going to be the big deal. At that point, however, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo were still steeped in the DIY culture of the rave era. The album was recorded at their home studio - hence its title - and sounds almost subversively spiky compared to the sumptuously-upholstered arrangements of 2013’s ‘Random Access Memories’, especially the flaring noise of militant stompers like Rollin’ & Scratchin’ and ‘Rock’n Roll’.

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