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Daft Punk

On their most popular tunes, the French techno duo Daft Punk comes off as disco idealists for the new millennium. That's to be expected, because lighter house tracks like the 1997 hit "Around the World" and last summer's club smash, "One More Time," are perfectly suited to mass pop consumption. True Daft Punkers, however, know the grittier, edgier side of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo, and Alive 1997 captures the Parisian acid-house element of their music.

The new live disc features four cuts whose originals appeared on Homework, their stellar debut, and stretches them out over an intense, 45-minute set recorded during Daft Punk's first European tour. In a continuous live mix, the pair tweaks and tortures the originals to a nearly indistinguishable degree in extended workouts.

To this end, the bass-fueled house gem "Da Funk" merits more than 16 minutes, including a staggered stop-start section that has the crowd squealing and peaking along with the synthesizers. Which brings up one unfortunate point: Without the real-world adrenaline provided by woofers imploding your chest as one churns amid the sweaty masses, the ten-plus minutes afforded several tracks may outlive many, if not all, attention spans. Still, "Rollin' & Scratchin'," "WDPK (Part II)," and "Alive" feature extended sections of sheer mixing brilliance; beats get a bpm bump, and pitches are oscillated to shrill climaxes for maximum drama, making Alive 1997 an indispensable document of the live Daft Punk experience.

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John Ferri

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