I’ve never been a great fan of Daft Punk. While admiring their Gallic style, more often than not their video clips eclipsed the personality of their metric techno; give me the spacious grooves of Air, any day.
The duo’s soundtrack for Tron: Legacy is something else entirely. Admirers of the original, 1979 version of Tron, they jumped at the chance to fashion the music for its remake, and what’s impressive is that they’ve taken it on in its entirety. These aren’t just Daft Punk outtakes, and there’s no sign of that scourge of contemporary movies: padding with a variety of hit songs. Nope, it’s an old-fashioned orchestral soundtrack, with a difference.
Fans of the group’s beat-oriented work may be disappointed, but Daft Punk certainly rise to the challenge of creating a stirring orchestral soundtrack, with all the hallmarks one expects from such an endeavour. I have no idea whether Daft Punk actually scored the music, or whether the film’s producers hired professionals to take the Daft Punk’s song sketches and turn them into compositions. And I don’t really care. The result is a better than average orchestral movie score that works pretty well as an at-home audio-only experience, mainly because it builds up to something a little out of the box.
About half way through, Daft Punk begin adding more and more electronic grain and sound effects into the orchestral fabric, and it works a treat. On track 12, called ‘End Of The Line’, this blossoms into a piece of out-and-out electronica; not exactly their trade-marked slick techno, this track and its immediate successors find a sound that borrows from the tradition originally mined by Goblin in the ‘70s for their work for Dario Argento; a kind or gothic-Italo-prog-disco. And yet what they do is utterly contemporary. There are also touches of Wendy/Walter Carlos and other synth-composers who worked in the field of motion pictures.
Tron: Legacy may not entirely escape its origin as a soundtrack to a movie, but Daft Punk should feel proud of their accomplishment, and it makes a right decent listening experience. Sonically, it’s also very dynamic and detailed without being at all sibilant or edgy. GARY STEEL
Sound = 4/5
Music = 3.5/5