Daft Punk, Homework- Bob Gajarsky

(Virgin)

It's never too early to practice up on those ABCs.

Some could say that is the motto of Daft Punk on their debut album, Homework. Glorified as one of the leaders of the "new" bands in electronica (as opposed to veterans such as the Orb, Chemical Brothers, or Prodigy), Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo have recorded an album on the cheap (in the bedroom, a la White Town) which is sure to be a hit in the clubs in 1997.

As a child practices the alphabet one letter at a time to get it right, Daft Punk bring out all the musical stops, one step at a time. This results in a musical classroom-like setting, where the French duo show the listener how their songs are constructed, one section at a time. Songs which might last 3-4 minutes for another group turn into extended 6+ minute lessons in layering one keyboard-based instrumental sound on top of another.

"Da Funk", which also appears on The Saint soundtrack, is a beautiful meeting of Chic (circa "Good Times", sans vocals) and the 90s form of electronica; the inside sleeve, complete with a picture of a Chic record, only serves to reinforce the connection.

The sleeve, which could have come from an American teenager's room in 1980, includes a Kiss concert poster, Hit Explosion album, can of Dr. Pepper, turntable, and Playboy magazine, amongst other articles.

Daft Punk's "respect to..." section covers all the artists the band has listened to, from expected street icons James Brown, Grandmaster Flash and Sugarhill Gang to the unlikely names of Barry Manilow, Urge Overkill and Ween. The track "Teachers" speaks more on these influences, name-dropping Brian Wilson, Dr. Dre, and Lil' Louie Vega through a sometimes computer-generated voice over an authentic hip hop/funk backbeat.

Homework will definitely bring hip hop and old school fans over to the world of electronica. For fans of the new style, Daft Punk is in the house, and class is in session.


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