Much like the PR blitz for Justin Timberlake, another artist who experienced a nostalgia-tinged comeback this year, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo—better known as Daft Punk—struck the world quickly with a few savvy PR moves. As a result, at least in the United States, the group’s profile has never been bigger. It certainly looks like their upcoming album, Random Access Memories, could be Daft Punk's biggest record to date.

 

This guide highlights the origins of the group and points at some of the music they’ve made along the way.

 

The marketing strategy for this album, which has celebrated the contributions of disco pioneers like Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder, is one of the most exciting things about the album’s release. It is the culmination of efforts by many fans, artists, and dance music historians to make up for America’s long sordid history with dance music. Finally, artists who quietly pioneered major changes in music history are getting credit for their contributions on the popular stage.

This isn’t a complete history of Daft Punk, nor is it an attempt to talk about Daft Punk in the 2000s. The group’s innovations in the 2000s have been covered widely, as have their forefathers in disco—the style that figures heavily in Daft Punk’s musical DNA. Instead, this guide highlights the origins of the group, and points to some of the music they’ve made along the way that their more recent fans might not be familiar with.

Daft Punk aren't just some retro-disco group; although their recent publicity might suggest otherwise, they haven't ever really been about "taking it back." Originally, the group was jumping on board with a wave of new music that had originated in black and Latino communities in America and was spreading worldwide. Despite their influences in disco, and in spite of their debts to house pioneers we discuss here, Daft Punk have always been about forward motion, whatever the tone of the group's recent marketing campaign.

Written by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)

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