Daft Punk Biography
Notoriously unwilling to let their faces be seen in the press, Daft duo Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem have in the past adopted robot "personas" to protect the purity of their real personalities. This time out, they have taken the android motif one step further -- the daring set of songs on "Human After All" actually sounds like it was created by robots -- albeit robots with emotions, desires, intelligence and yes, even soul. Though the new disc certainly contains elements of both the body-rocking funk and house of Homework -- their 1997 debut album that joyously and audaciously brought dance music to the mainstream -- and the exuberant beats and soulful soundscapes of Discovery, Daft fans are sure to be surprised -- and delighted -- by what an extraordinarily unique statement Human After All is.
Conceiving a new industrial age, where technology is inextricably linked to every part of our humanity, including our emotions, Daft Punk have fashioned a soundtrack to our modern lives. Creating some of the most hard-hitting yet exhilarating beats of their career, the duo brings us inside the heart and head of a 21st century robot -- which, after all, could be any one of us. So, along with the heart beat that we hear pumping in the title track, we also get the sense of a driving mechanized rhythm that drives our bodies through our day -- we are automatons programmed to live, work, love, and succeed. In another track, the insistently repetitive and mesmerizing "The Prime Time of Your Life," we are urged to celebrate the peak of our human ambitions. But at the end of the song, the rhythm gets faster and faster until our world spins completely out of control. Perhaps that is why we need to end the stressful routine of our day by coming home to stare at an electronic machine in our living rooms (hence the ominously authoritative track, "Television Rules the Nation.")
And for when our machinery gets clogged and dirty from all of the mindless repetition of our technological world, there's the pummeling hardcore techno of "The Brainwasher" to help us purge everything between our ears. Part horror movie, part catharsis, the track is a liberating musical lobotomy.
Of course, all work and no play turns a robot into a very dull machine. Gladly, then, we have the energizing "Robot Rock" -- the first single -- which apotheosizes cheesy '80 guitar pop (think Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," perhaps) into a sublime call to the dance floor. And for those more intimate moments, when you just want to turn off your power pack and get horizontal with the android that you love, there is the beautifully languid "Make Love," with it's undulating piano serenade.
Ultimately, we are not machines, and Daft Punk knows that. The human heart beats mightily beneath our breasts, however much we are in synch with the modern machines around us. That is why we are brought back to the paradisiacal closer, "Emotion." Though we may hear the sounds of a factory or a steel mill in the distance, we are reminded that it is the constant rhythm of our breathing and our blood pumping that keeps us alive and powers humanity into the future.
"Human After All," created between September and November of 2004 at the group's home studio in Paris, takes dance and club music to a whole level. Deftly straddling the line between organic expression and technological expertise, the album finds Daft Punk once again breaking down barriers between musical genres -- techno, pop, rock, funk, hip-hop. In the process, they have forged a totally new sound, a musical accompaniment for every aspect of our lives. Daft Punk -- human after all? You better believe it.