Sad to say, the stunning and avant-garde musical score for the movie Tron: Legacy was completely overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences this year. Composed by French DJs Daft Punk, this original score blends their familiar techno tropes with a full orchestra. The result is a series of atmospheric digital soundscapes that perfectly complement the computer world of the cult movie.
Review by Pauline Adamek
Daft Punk is an influential electronic dance duo formed by French producers Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo in Paris during the early 90s. Their music is a fusion of electronic styles, including techno, house and disco, and which is so distinctive that it has since been dubbed “˜French house”™.
For this movie, soaring symphonic themes are frequently underpinned by a pulsing beat. By creating textural layers of ambient electronica with orchestral symphonics, Daft Punk has created a vivid and memorably dreamy score.
Working on the projected for a reported two years, the pair devised and created their themes, synthesizer sound pads and built their rhythm tracks before they recorded various sections with a live orchestra. They assembled a symphony of one hundred world-class musicians in London, recording the orchestra at one of Britain”™s premier scoring facilities, namely George Martin”™s AIR Lyndhurst Studios. And the result is once of the most glorious and addictive scores this critic has heard in a long while.
Daft Punk credits the influences of composers Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams and Christophe Beck. Conspicuously absent is any reference to Phillip Glass, whose frequent and signature use of minimalist polyrhythms, arpeggi and repetitive, simple harmonic progressions are echoed in this score, but to far greater effect. This score supplies an inner dynamo for the continuous, gliding progression of the simple plot of Tron: Legacy.
Track 2 (The Grid) is part of the movie”™s opening sequence and is the only track that contains the spoken word, namely a voice over delivered by the movie”™s star Jeff Bridges. This brief plot exposition is supported by pulsing percussive theme and the introduction of one of the secondary themes, an eight-note pulsing reverb, which is accompanied by a string version of the main theme.
One of my favorite cuts, Track 4 (Recognizer), is a gorgeous, majestic almost three minute track where the repetitive strings build to a colossal climax, underpinned by magnificent French horns an brass section. Created from a second major theme involving celli, it is accompanied by some driving bass sub-tones reminiscent of Hans Zimmer”™s themes for Dark Knight.
Track 10 is a poignant an elegant Adagio that, from memory, was used to counterpoint a scene of destruction. It builds with a driving and pleasing intensity before concluding with a haunting solo violin theme. Another quiet surprise is the Nocturne that follows at track 11.
“˜Solar Sailer”™ [sic] (track 15) is a mesmerizing electronic piece that doesn”™t appear in the movie until the end credits. I can listen to this track over and over again.
Timpani, cymbals, gong, lush strings, French horn, synths – this score is a masterful blend of classical music with Daft Punk”™s unique electronic sound.Â With track lengths ranging from around 90 seconds to a maximum of four and a half minutes, for some listeners this score may feel choppy and unsatisfying. But its repetitive nature provides sufficient pleasure for this critic.
Unfortunately the U.S. release of this soundtrack album is missing nine tracks, which apparently means over twenty-five minutes of music is not included. For the full experience you will have to import the more expensive 2-CD album. Additionally, to obtain the other four missing bonus tracks you will need to purchase them from iTunes plus get the 8th track from Amazon.Â Phew!
Still, the standard US release is truly gorgeous to listen to, especially when driving along a smooth freeway.