Tron: Legacy is one of the most anticipated films of the most recent decade. As Avatar and other 3D movies has shown us, films are undergoing a significant evolution in to how they are produced as well as executed. Although Tron will be groundbreaking for the technology, production, and experience, the bigger story could lie musically in Daft Punk’s first attempt at a classic score for a movie that is being perceived as a soundtrack; also groundbreaking.
The Tron: Legacy soundtrack is completely composed by the French duo comprised of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter more familiarly known as Daft Punk. Since the 1990’s, Daft Punk has been one of the biggest players in electronic music by releasing such hits as “One More Time” and “Around the World” that topped charts, frequented DJs libraries, and provided the inspiration for a multitude of other acts such as Justice. Daft Punk is special because they took playing electronic music to different levels while performing under the persona of robots, who are not human after all.
Daft Punk’s most notable success, aside from nearly two decades worth of relevant tracks and fame in the electronic music scene, was the most recent Alive World Tour in 2006 and 2007. This was Daft Punk’s first live performance after being quiet for five years and they decided to do it in a giant pyramid constructed of a jaw dropping arrangement of LED lights, screens, and a composed sequence to go along with the entire concert. The level they had reached stunned attendees and got everyone once again buzzing about the elite status of Daft Punk.
So when it was announced that these acclaimed robots from France were to be fully responsible for the music in the epic remake of Tron, the excitement started to build. This is not Daft Punk’s first time applying a soundtrack to a film though. In 2003 Daft Punk released Interstellar 5555, an animated film that was created to the entire album of Discovery, an album released by the French duo from 2001. Once again Daft Punk changed the game in electronic music with this timeless masterpiece etching their own legacy as groundbreaking producers.
Although, the release of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack has been highly anticipated, the average Daft Punk fan is left dumbfounded by the idea of this being a techincal “soundtrack”. This collection of songs is not the same repetitive house beats and remixes that fans are used to banging their heads to. This time Daft Punk has further expanded their repertoire into the field of moment form compositions. This form of music, which focuses on the mood and vertical stages of music, is more commonly exemplified as the score of a movie; the non linear music you hear that sets a mood, not necessarily following the traditional confines of music.
Many of the most advanced composers and producers of electronic music are not those featured on radios or clubs around the world but are in the more technical side of the industry actually creating soundscapes and multidimensional experiences with audio. Steve Reich and Phillip Glass are among the names of some of the bigger players in this electroacoustic field providing music in such films as The Illusionist, Secret Window, or creating the core sample for Radiohead’s international megahit “Idioteque”.
Through Tron: Legacy, Daft Punk was successfully able to not only provide a compositional poignant story of a soundtrack but was also able to fuse modern synthesizers and effects into the compositions that will surely go down as a significant moment in electronic music as well as scores. As seen with the song “Disc Wars”, the listener is taken on a journey through oscillating undertones and a momentous build that alludes to a triumphant and gallant theme only to dramatically fall out. Incredible. Of course as featured in the theme song for the film “Tron Legacy (end titles)” provides the more commonly known dance party hooks that has all fans eager for their next live performance. With this new soundtrack Daft Punk has created, the French producers now begin to enter the conversation amongst these unsung heroes and pioneers in electronic music.
The soundtrack provides a telling indication for how the tone of the film will be as well as successfully foreshadowing much of the drama which Tron:Legacy alludes to. Do not expect to sing along to the tracks or hear any of these on the radio too soon, but use the imagination given the history of Daft Punk’s mastering ability to remix and compose epic sequences in music that will have you feel like… well, however they want you to feel. Those who have heard the Alive performance understand the capability that Daft Punk possesses. To be able to add an entirely different approach to music, through scores and more abstract compositions, the potential for what they will do next is undeniably compelling.
Although rumors of an elec-TRON-ica tour have been circulating the internet and blogs for a while now, the more current hype for the film Tron:Legacy has been only heightened but the release of this soundtrack. If the journey we go through as listeners to this soundtrack is the basis for the compelling escape this film should provide for a truly memorable event both for movies and music.
Written by Danny Goodman