Daft Punk: Tron Legacy

Tron: Legacy

(Daft Punk)
Release Date: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 has been a fantastic year for film soundtracks. Atticus Ross’ Book of Eli score, Ross’ collaboration with Trent Reznor for The Social Network, Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception…and those are just the big three on my radar. Actually, make that four. I first heard Daft Punk years ago when I lived in France as a teenager. They had just released their debut album, Homework and I was mesmerized by the music and the creative visuals that complimented all of their singles (“Da Funk” and “Around The World” in particular).

Naturally it comes as no surprise that their soundtrack for Tron: Legacy would be equally suited to spectacular visuals. Say what you will about the film itself (I really enjoyed it), but the cinematography is beautiful and stunning. The pairing of Daft Punk and Tron is so natural that it would seem like they were made for one another, coupled by God himself, just after Adam and Eve and peanut butter and jelly. The incredible thing about this score is that it’s at once completely Daft Punk and yet something new from these robot mask-wearing DJs. And that should probably come as a bit of a warning for DP fans who’ve been waiting for the past few years for new material. If you were hoping for the follow-up to Human After All or Alive 2007, you’ll need to keep waiting. In truth, there are only two or three tracks here that sound blatantly like Daft Punk’s electro goodness.

But therein lies the beauty and strength of this score. In melding their electronic background with a more traditional approach to film scoring (i.e., a full orchestra, arrangements, themes, and motifs), Daft Punk has created something that pulsates and moves with emotion and energy. The immediate comparison in my mind is Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack: dark, moody, and completely engrossing. Without being derivative, the Tron: Legacy score fits alongside of Blade Runner’s like, well, peanut butter and chocolate. The strings and brass soar, while the low end of the orchestra (and the electronic bass and drums) brood and provide an underlying urgency to the whole affair.

If there’s one criticism that I can level at this release is that (again like the infamous Blade Runner score) it is incomplete. While the single disc edition does have 22 tracks, it appears that there are at least nine extra tracks floating around that can only be procured by purchasing different versions (or links from your favorite music blogs). There’s a double disc version of the soundtrack that features five extra tracks on the second CD, a couple of iTunes bonus tracks, an Amazon bonus track and some Nokia Ovi bonus track that’s only available to non-US residents. While bonus and exclusive tracks are commonplace these days for artist/band releases, this approach seems a little maddening for a film score. On the whole, it’s a smaller complaint, but worth pointing out if you’re a completist (like yours truly).

In the final analysis, I think Daft Punk is right at home in the film-scoring world. While I do hope their next album finds them returning to their electronic roots, I also hope that this isn’t the last time that they delve into the soundtrack world. It’s a match made in movie heaven.

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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