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Daft Punk

Long live Daft Punk: 10 best deep cuts, remixes, and lesser-known gems

The robot lords of the dancefloor have called it quits after 28 years redefining pop and dance music – we run through their era beyond the biggest hits

You could be forgiven for thinking “end of an era” has lost all meaning. Sean Kingston disappears into the ether? End of an era. The ageing pub rock band down the road finally calls it a day? End of an era. Literally anything ceases to exist, in a world that’s so stagnant and still? End of an era.

This week, we collectively learnt the true meaning of the phrase when Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, aka Daft Punk, bid the world adieu via an eight-minute video titled Epilogue. After 28 years, four studio albums, countless live shows, several Grammys, and much more besides, the globetrotting electronic duo pulled the curtain on one of the most thrilling musical projects of all time.

But lamenting their dissolution after three very busy decades doesn’t feel quite right. After all, the very existence of Daft Punk – all cryptic anonymity and industry evasion – has always felt a little beyond the here and now. If anything, knowing they are no longer active feels like a golden opportunity to take stock of a reality-warping creative legacy that kicked against convention and comparison.

Bangalter and de Homem-Christo‘s rise from stalwarts of the Parisian “French touch” scene in the mid-1990s, to envelope-pushing house gurus on their 1997 debut album Homework tapped the Zeitgeist for a singular mood. Combined, singles “Around the World” and “Da Funk” doubled as a far-reaching introduction to a pair who were filtering forward-pushing euphoria like few others.

Their M.O. crystallised on the critically-devoured Discovery. When it dropped back in 2001, it felt almost Thriller-like in the sheer amount of FM-friendly monsters it managed to pack in. Underpinning the irresistible electro-pop of “One More Time” and “Digital Love” was the pair’s joint masterclass at sampling. Not since Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, or the Bomb Squad’s work on Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, had an album rendered what is essentially borrowing down to such a fine, fully original art.

Consolidating their ascension to pop iconography, the arrival of Random Access Memories in 2018 – eight years after the somewhat middling dance-rock of Human After All – felt like a statement to end all statements. While not quite as vital as, say, In Utero, Back To Black or Blackstar, it was unashamedly huge and pristine, and marked a kind of musical self-actualisation of two artists who always strove for their own version of perfection.

In steadily revolutionising electronic music, Daft Punk simultaneously upended the landscape of modern pop. Not since New Order had an electronic group so singlehandedly honed in on their own vision and made it accessible to the world. With countless collaborations and remixes, they dreamt up a self-contained universe of sound and vision – one that took in the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy, as well as the sublime visual accompaniment to Discovery, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. From behind those masks, nothing must have seemed impossible.

As we reckon with the news, looking forward feels right. But first, let’s cast our ears and eyes back. Beyond the hits, here’s a rundown of some of the deep cuts, remixes, sessions, and lesser-known gems from Daft Punk’s three-decade voyage toward to now: the very real – the almost touchable – end of an era.