Discovery by Daft Punk and Interstella 5555 by Leiji Matsumoto – album review

Cover of "Discovery" by Daft Punk.
Cover of “Discovery” by Daft Punk.
Discovery by Daft Punk is a 2001 album which was animated into a short science fiction film (about 62 minutes) titled Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, created and directed by master animator Leiji Matsumoto. To me, you must see the animation to experience the album fully, and it’s actually how I was introduced to Daft Punk (so maybe I’m a little biased there).

The album has fourteen tracks, with the most well known being “One More Time”, “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, and “Face to Face” (which features singer Todd Edwards). These are my three favorites from the album, and I liked the others to varying degrees. I thought some of the pieces were too repetitive or just too unmemorable to stand by themselves, almost as if they were filler pieces without as much effort put into them. This is where the film comes in.

Cover of "Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem", directed by Leiji Matsumoto.
Cover of “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem”, directed by Leiji Matsumoto.
Interstella 5555 begins in a far away galaxy where a rock group is performing at a concert. Strange aliens suddenly attack and kidnap the group after putting the audience to sleep with some sort of gas. The aliens take the rock group through a space portal to another galaxy and change their appearance to fit the locals, then turn them into a megastar band there in order to make millions for their maniacally evil kidnapper. The kidnappers are pursued by a fan of the band who flies a guitar-shaped spaceship.

As the Crescendolls (as they are known there) become stars on the new planet, they begin to wonder why they don’t feel they belong. They have suppressed emotions and have trouble with their duties as megastars (signing albums, greeting fans, and so on).

As they begin another concert, the fan from their own planet finds them, setting off a chain of events which changes things forever. For a film which has almost no words, it’s amazing how detailed and interesting the story is (reminds me a bit of how Mark Tatulli does things in his comic Liō).

Matsumoto and his crew of animators did a superb job working with the music from Daft Punk and creating a very coherent whole which outshines the album alone. The film allowed me to better appreciate some of the filler music I mentioned previously. While I’m a huge Daft Punk fan, I can’t say I adore everything they put out, but the context of the film made the music much more enjoyable.

Overall, I enjoyed both the album and the film, but the film was what made the experience for me. Without the film, the album is just above average, but nothing special. With the film, the album becomes something greater than the sum of its parts, something much, much better and more interesting. I highly recommend picking up Interstella 5555, and only recommend Discovery to those who are already fans of Daft Punk.

Track Listing:

1. One More Time
2. Aerodynamic
3. Digital Love
4. Harder Better Faster Stronger
5. Crescendolls
6. Nightvision
7. Superheroes
8. High Life
9. Something About Us
10. Voyager
11. Veridis Quo
12. Short Circuit
13. Face to Face
14. Too Long

Release Date: March 12, 2001 (USA)
Language: English

MySF Rating: Album – Three point zero stars Film – Five point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 90%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (film: minor alcohol consumption)
Language: 0
Nudity: 1 (film: main characters shown in underwear in one scene)
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 2 (kidnapping, shooting, multiple deaths, generally non-graphic)

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