Daft Punk - Human After All (Vinyl)

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Human After All is the third studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, first released on 14 March 2005 through Virgin Records. Unlike their previous studio album Discovery (2001), whose sound was inspired by disco and garage house and produced over the period of two years, Human After All was more minimalistic and improvisational with a mixture of heavier guitars and electronics, and was produced in six weeks.

Human After All received mixed reviews from critics, who derided its minimalistic, repetitive nature and its six-week production time. However, the singles "Robot Rock" and "Technologic" charted in several countries, while the title track charted in France. Daft Punk incorporated the songs into their Alive 2006/2007 tour, which received critical acclaim.

An early press release stated that the record "[retained] their trademark Daft Punk sound, this time with a more spontaneous and direct quality to the recording". Human After All's brief creation and minimal production had been decided upon beforehand as a counterpoint to Discovery, which had been produced in two years. Thomas Bangalter said that they were "definitely seduced at the time by the idea of doing the opposite of" their previous studio album. He compared the deliberately unpolished record to "a stone that's unworked".

Human After All was created primarily with two guitars, two drum machines, a vocoder and one eight-track machine. It was produced in six weeks from September to November 2004, with four of those weeks spent mixing. A majority of the album's sound and timbre was crafted by using a DigiTech synth wah effect pedal. Bangalter stated that the album was "about this feeling of either fear or paranoia" and "not something intended to make you feel good". He said that both it and the 2006 film Daft Punk's Electroma are "extremely tormented and sad and terrifying looks at technology, but there can be some beauty and emoting from it". He acknowledged the perceived mechanical quality of the record, but felt that it expressed "the dance between humanity and technology".

At the time of Human After All's release, Daft Punk considered it their favourite of their albums, and described it as "pure improvisation". Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo said that every album they made was "tightly linked with our lives" and that "the internal, personal stuff Thomas went through during Human After All made it closer to where he was at the time".

 



Of all the albums this reviewer has re-reviewed, of which there are numerous, none have been done as much as Human After All. This oughta tip you off as to the material within, which is most definitely the most stark and alienating material released by Daft Punk to date. They've successfully conquered - with powerful authority - both the pop world and the electronic world, so one would wonder how to follow up such a feat. It's hard to picture anyone expecting this.

Repeated listens slowly reveal Human After All to be somewhat of a concept album, with its running theme being robotic music made by and for robots, which could be their attempt at satire. It's anthems for androids, and never does it feel more of a daunting listen than the first. Every song - repeat, every song - has a limited palette of a few different synth lines, a couple of repeated lyrics, and a modestly catchy hook. But there is little elaboration on any of it, as it simply repeats itself at its leisure until it decides to stop, all of it rendered even more confrontational by the icy production. Take lead single "Robot Rock." It takes a sampled, single note riff punctuated by a descending synth melody and proceeds to absolutely run it into the ground for almost 5 minutes, making one thankful for every opportunity for the listener to catch one's breath. It's so limited in scope (to be frank, the radio edit is an improvement) it becomes comical as it drones on and on. Like one of those Family Guy jokes that's cute at first but gets repeated over and over until you laugh, and then get kind of frustrated, and then laugh again. "Emotion" is another example of this, as the title word is repeated - robotically of course - again and again and again until it just becomes a running joke. This occurs frequently on the album and becomes its main gimmick. It's not helped much by the cold, grimy "Prime Time Of Your Life" which gets by on an out-of-character shuffle beat that suddenly begins to speed up and overtake itself.

So what was the point? A piss-take on critics? Other artists? Themselves? Whatever the cause, it's not that this is a bad album. Occasionally, the repetition - much like the funk music that formerly influenced their work - tends to become hypnotic, like on "The Brainwasher," which has a certain spark to it that keeps you dancing as it keeps pounding out a big, nasty hook ad infinitum - brainwashers indeed! "Make Love" proves to be the prettiest moment on the album, with its own repeated hook just warming the soul. The title track is addictive, with a little more body to it than the other songs and with its strong pop hook could have fit in well on Discovery. And "Technologic" needs to be heard to be fully appreciated. So no, it's not their best album, nor is it an easy one to love, as they've never sounded quite as alienating as this (indeed, it put many fans off who were pulled in by Discovery). But if one has a real passion for dance music, repeated listens show off some of the nastiest grooves Daft Punk ever produced.

By: wyatte.


Human After All 5:20
The Prime Time Of Your Life 4:23
Robot Rock 4:26
Steam Machine 5:21
Make Love 4:49
The Brainwasher 4:08
On/Off 0:19
Television Rules The Nation 4:46
Technologic 4:43
Emotion


Coordinator [Production Coordinators For Daft Life] – Cedric Hervet, Gildas Loaëc
Guitar [All Guitars] – Daft Punk
Lacquer Cut By – Alex Gopher
Management – Pedro Winter For Headbangers Entertainment*
Mastered By – Nilesh Patel
2022 reissue, distributed in a glossy gatefold jacket with printed inner sleeves.

[...] Made in Netherlands.
Barcode (Text): 0 190296 611902
Barcode (Scanned): 190296611902
Matrix / Runout (Runout Side A): GOPHER-TR- 57257 3A 072435635621 ? 1A
Matrix / Runout (Runout Side B): GOPHER-TR- 57257 3B 072435635621 ? 1B
Matrix / Runout (Runout Side C): GOPHER-TR- 57257 3C 072435635621 ? 1C
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