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Hey! Listen! — Da Chip vol. II

By / Posted on 23 February 2012

Da Chip volume 2Daft Punk changed the landscape of electronic music so drastically that it’s hard to imagine modern dance music or club culture without Daft Punk. Everything that came after the debut of Daft Punk has been in some way indebted to the robotic French duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo. Sometimes artists feel it only appropriate to pay homage to their idols in their own works as a token of respect. James Murphy did as much with LCD Soundsystem’s breakout single “Daft Punk is Playing at my House,” and a crew of eleven different chip musicians from around the world paid tribute in 2009 with Da Chip, a compilation of Daft Punk songs as interpreted on vintage game systems. Da Chip suffered from an expected and obvious shortcoming, though—covering electronic songs with older electronics made most of the songs sound exactly the same, only at a lower fidelity. There were a couple of tracks where the musicians strayed from the source material to express their own voices, but there’s always the temptation with legendary artists like Daft Punk to generally not screw with a good thing, and most of Da Chip felt uninspired as a result.

Here we are, over two years later, with the freshly-released Da Chip vol. II. Is it more of the same? Thankfully, no.

It seems only appropriate that these two compilations have both been curated by fellow French electronic musicians Je Deviens DJ en 3 Jours and Zombectro, and whether it be because the musicians had more time to work on these tracks, had the first album to compare their work to, or the general rise of the chip music scene in recent years, the overall personality and energy of Da Chip vol. II is noticeably more vibrant and personable. Sabrepulse’s take on “Digital Love” is a wide and atmospheric venture into cybernetic dubstep. Zombectro’s interpretation of “Face to Face” is a grimy decent into lurid, sweat-soaked dancehalls with Todd Edwards’s silky smooth vocals replaced by a single quivering and slightly echoed triangle wave. Fuckjazzforaminute transform’s “One More Time” into a pensive end credits sign-off before moving into a driving and upbeat boss battle, and Ary Warnaar reimagine’s “Make Love” as a dripping-wet dub stunner.

Even “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” which had rapidly become the most overdone Daft Punk single with countless YouTube fan videos and sampling by Kanye West, finds new life in Cheapshot’s rendition—the vocal samples are reduced to mere synth blips, allowing the subtle flourishes and staccato percussive stabs to stand out as stars more than accents. The only prolonged attempt at digital vocals is on Henry Homesweet’s interpretation of “Something About Us,” serving as a sweet and curiously emotional coda to the android freakouts. The only disappointment we found was in cTrix’s “Too Long.” While perfectly bouncy, we admittedly had our hopes a bit too high after the Australian’s stage-destroying acid-trip dance explosion set at last year’s Blip Festival, coupled with being one of our absolute favorite original Daft Punk tracks. Anything short of pearlescent penguins popping out of our computer screens and hand-feeding us Cadbury Creme Eggs would have paled in comparison to our expectations on that one.

Da Chip vol. II is a consistently fun and engaging take on these modern classics of electronic rock. Stream the new compilation above and download both albums and learn more about the albums on the official Da Chip website.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.