Daft Punk, one of the most influential and popular groups to emerge in the past 30 years, have announced their retirement via a video titled “Epilogue” posted Monday morning. The duo’s longtime publicist officially confirmed the split to Variety and declined to provide further details.
The eight-minute clip features the duo — Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo — who for many years have concealed their features behind a robot concept, walking around the desert, wearing in their familiar space helmets and leather jackets. After a few moments, one of the members looks at the other, removes his jacket and reveals an energy pack on the back. The other touches a button on the pack. The first member walks away quickly, and then explodes.
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The scene cuts to a sunrise, or possibly a sunset, as a choral version of the group’s song “Touch” plays.
The song is from the duo’s 2013 “Random Access Memories” album, which in many ways was a culmination of their career. The album, which included the global hit single “Get Lucky,” won the Grammy Award for Best Album the following year. The duo has largely kept a low profile since then, with their most prominent work being a collaboration with the Weeknd on two songs from his 2016 album “Starboy,” the title track and “I Feel It Coming.”
Bangalter and de Homem-Christo met in the mid-’80s at school in Paris as teenagers and soon after began working together on music. They formed a rock band called Darlin’, inspired by the Beach Boys song of the same name, with their friend Laurent Brancowitz in 1992 and released a song on a compilation on Stereolab’s Duophonic label. The song received a negative review in the Melody Maker — which called described it as “a daft punky thrash” — and, in a move that would set the tone for the rest of their career, turned the negative review into their new band name. The two decided to focus on electronic music; Brancowitz left and ultimately formed Phoenix.
The duo set the sonic tone for the new group with their first single, “The New Wave,” released in 1994. It was followed the next year by “Da Funk,” which became a European hit single and formed the template for their debut album, “Homework,” released late in 1996. The pair, along with manager Pedro Winter, set a strong self-determined course from the beginning, demanding artistic control and ownership of their masters, which they have licensed to major record labels over the years.
The album was one of the best of the wave of mid-1990s electronic dance albums and lofted the duo, who at this point were still performing without disguises, to international stardom. They toured extensively and engaged in outside and solo projects and released a series of innovative videos around “Homework.” The duo released their second album, “Discovery” in 2001, led by the single “One More Time” — the “disco-very” implicit in the title was no accident, as the album was more pop in nature than the debut and set a trend for upending expectations.
More to come …
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