Fragments of time: chronicling the astral journey of Daft Punk


Credit: The New York Times

Jaeden Pinder, Staff Writer

Daft Punk, the French electronic duo, announced their disbandment on Feb. 22, after 28 years together.

The duo announced their split through a video uploaded to their Youtube account titled, “Epilogue. ”

The chilling video features a scene from their 2006 film “Daft Punk’s Electroma” as the robots walk across a desert in complete silence, and one self-destructs.

The end features the lone robot walking alone as an arrangement of “Touch” plays out.

Despite their relative silence throughout the late 2010s, their retirement still comes as a shock to critics and fans alike.

Leaving behind four albums, two live albums, a soundtrack and a multitude of remix albums, it’s hard to deny Daft Punk’s influence and importance in electronic music – especially in popularizing French house.

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the men behind the robotic guises, met in secondary school and began their musical expedition as the punk rock outfit Darlin’.

After a year, the group disbanded and Bangalter and Homem-Christo experimented with new techniques and units like the talk box and synthesizers.

The duo was inspired by the techno scene in France’s nightclubs and switched gears towards French house music.

They broke onto the scene with their first single, “Da Funk,” in 1995 and soon after released their debut album “Homework” in 1997.

The album featured the infectious single “Around the World,” which experimented with looping and what would become their signature computerized vocals. These two singles remain fundamental tracks for avid fans of the duo.

Daft Punk continued to experiment with new elements and fused genres into their later releases. In 2001, “Discovery” was released to widespread acclaim for its ability to incorporate disco and melody-driven songs.

Songs like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” and “Digital Love” showed off their prowess with up-tempo house beats while songs like “Veridis Quo” and “Something About Us” were more mellow and contained dulcet tones.

Accompanying the album was the film, “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem,” which formed the basis of the music videos in this era.

Other releases include the heavier rock-influenced “Human After All,” a slew of live and remix albums, and their film score for the film “TRON: Legacy.”


Bangalter and de Homem-Christo began donning helmets to mask their identities beginning during the press circulation of “Discovery.” Already particularly reclusive, they began to refuse interviews and public appearances more often.

Their new appearances began to take the form of performance art; in a rare interview from 2000, Bangalter spoke on their transformation to Piers Martin for Vice saying, “We did not choose to become robots. There was an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, and at exactly 9:09 am on September 9, 1999, it exploded. When we regained consciousness, we discovered that we had become robots.”

Throughout the 2010s, Daft Punk collaborated with many artists outside of their standard releases, including Kanye West and The Weeknd, handling production in genres like industrial rap and new wave, respectively.

West had previously sampled the duo in his song “Stronger” and brought the duo onboard to create his most abrasive and punk album to date, “Yeezus.”

The match-up with West and the duo was transcendent because of their similar affinity to go against the grain. In turn, West’s partnership with the duo created a sonically renowned LP; highlights include “On Sight” and “I Am a God.”

The Weeknd recruited the duo for his 2016 album “Starboy;” Daft Punk’s credits include the title track and the single “I Feel It Coming.”

Nearly eight years after their last full-length release, Daft Punk released “Random Access Memories.” Diverging from their typical electronic house sound and looking towards funk, the album was extremely well-received, receiving four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams and Niles Rodgers.

A love-letter to disco of the 70s and 80s, “Random Access Memories” feels like the most personal and introspective work in their catalog.

The album takes the listener on an interstellar journey through disco, as if you are listening to the memories of their robotic personas.

Even after 28 years in the industry, Daft Punk’s earliest cuts still feel futuristic and are revered for their originality.

Adored on and off of the dancefloor, by superfans and casual listeners alike, Daft Punk are cemented as pioneers of French house music and as paragons for electronic musicians and fans worldwide.

Some essential Daft Punk tracks:

  • One More Time (Discovery)
  • Touch (feat. Paul Williams) (Random Access Memories)
  • Indo Silver Club (Homework)
  • Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Discovery)
  • Digital Love (Discovery)
  • Da Funk (Homework)
  • Send It Up by Kanye West (Yeezus)
  • Face to Face (Discovery)
  • Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas) (Random Access Memories)
  • Burnin’ (Homework)