- Vancouver, British Columbia - While Tron: Legacy was still in production, it was announced that the French electronic duo Daft Punk would be scoring the film. Fans, both casual and hardcore, nodded their heads and agreed that it actually made a whole lot of sense. They were one of the frontrunners who helped turn electronic music from a genre that was strictly for clubbing Eurotrash and confused Grade 8s into a kind of music that could be appreciated universally, being both fun and eclectic. Besides, their music is no stranger to the film medium considering their second album, Discovery, had a cartoon motion picture created around the music called Interstella 5555. Furthermore, the duo has stated their appreciation for the original Tron and as such they have a passion and respect for the material.
When listening to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, you have to listen to it in two different ways. First, you must judge the album like it is a soundtrack to a movie. Far too many film scores sound bland and generic and the idea behind bringing in a popular band, especially with one with the reputation that Daft Punk has, would be to add some flavour and deliver something different.
In this case, it should also be listened to as if it is Daft Punk's fourth album. 5 years have passed since they released Human After All and fans have been eagerly waiting for new material. The band, considering their influence, actually has a fairly light discography. While their material has survived the test of time, if they want to keep their fan base growing, they will need to continue to keep the public aware and excited.
As a soundtrack, the album definitely works. Daft Punk has their distinctive electronic voice present through most of it, but also has a humble willingness to put the project first. It sounds and feels like a musical score for a film and carries many of those traits. This is the first time the band has worked with a full orchestra and they use the extra musical body to their advantage. Often it feels like the strings take over, showing that they recognize that not every moment of the movie calls for thick dance beats.
There are many reoccurring musical themes, which is typical for soundtracks. Often while the string section is doing their part as the main body of the songs, Daft Punk's synths and beats will work their way naturally into the music and complete the compositions. That's the most important part. It all feels natural and makes for a very cohesive collection of songs. While watching the film, I never felt like I was being force fed a Daft Punk brand. They made sure their egos were not a factor that would compromise their music.
If you listen to it as if it were only Daft Punk's fourth album, some fans would walk away very disappointed. But I personally don't see that as a bad thing. The point is that it's a very big step for the duo, and when you take a leap like that, some fans who want what they had before are going to be upset. Ultimately, I think it's a more worthwhile venture in the long run. Let's not forget that many fans were outraged when Daft Punk released Discovery and it was a step away from their repetitive club tunes that Homework was so abundant with. Today, Discovery is considered by many to be their magnum opus.
It's a particularly big jump when you take into consideration that Human After All was a very minimalist album. It was very repetitive and relied heavily on vocal samples and guitar effects. The Tron: Legacy soundtrack is full of orchestral arrangements and completely original compositions, where often before they would sample a piece of music and build off of it.
Unfortunately, the album as a whole does have very few memorable tracks, but again, that's the nature of the project. But there are certainly terrific highlights spread throughout it and every so often we are treated to songs that are clearly there to show off that we are indeed listening to an album by Daft Punk. “End of the Line” and “Derezzed” can go down as classics for the band and will be appreciated by those who wanted this to be more... traditional to the band's style.
There will be naysayers to this release, but that's unavoidable. There were those who said that Kid A would kill Radiohead or that Achtung Baby was the beginning of the end for U2. The truth is that bands survive change. Daft Punk has branched out and I'm excited to see where they will go next. They are still being true to themselves and the integrity of their music and the movie Tron: Legacy and their discography are better off for it.
Rating: 4.5/5 Sour Grapes