Better in Context: Daft Punk’s Vision of TRON’s Digital Frontier is Best On-Screen
By ALEX VAN BEEK
It makes sense that Daft Punk would be asked to score “TRON: Legacy,” Disney’s sequel to the cult hit, “TRON.” The French duo has gained considerable recognition in the past few years, including a Grammy, for their work in the electronic music genre. Additionally, the visual elements that accompany their live shows are more than reminiscent of the Grid – the cyberspace world of “TRON: Legacy.”
What is most surprising about Daft Punk’s soundtrack is the that the majority of the material steers away from their established electronic conventions, instead opting for a more orchestral composition to suit the darker nature of the film.
At twenty-two tracks, Daft Punk appears to offer a wealth of material, but looks can be deceiving, as half the songs hover around the two-minute mark, one of my main gripes with the overall soundtrack.
With the exception of “Derezzed,” these shorter tracks add little to the overall album, generally following the same musical layout; electronic sound effects layered over an ostinato, with a steady build-up throughout the track. These shorter tracks work great as background music within the film, but as individual tracks, they all blend together.
The songs that really work the best are the ones that make an effort to be different from the rest of what the album offers. “Derezzed,” for example, stands out by being one of the more upbeat songs on the soundtrack and is more in line with Daft Punk’s traditional sound.
“Recognizer” has a very good balance between the use of string instruments and electronic sound effects, as well as tastefully incorporating the “TRON” theme, all the while maintaining a sense of urgency.
“Adagio for Tron” is a very sepulchral track. Distinguished by its sparse use of electronic elements, “Adagio” is a song that would not normally be associated with the world of “TRON.”
Without a doubt, the best way to experience Daft Punk’s score is while watching “TRON: Legacy” itself. It’s one thing to listen to the soundtrack as a stand alone product, but to hear it in context makes it stand out all the more.
The quiet, somber pieces play during moments of the film that more closely relate to the plot, such as “Adagio for Tron” which plays while protagonist Sam Flynn reconnects with his father.
The heavier, electronic pieces play during the action sequences, like “The Game Has Changed” during the lightcycle sequence.
Songs like “End of Line”, while not a soundtrack standout, are much more noticeable in the film while complementing the action onscreen.
Daft Punk’s “TRON: Legacy” soundtrack is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film it accompanies. As a standalone album however, it doesn’t hold up quite as well. There are some great tracks here, but there are quite a few others that drag the listening experience down.
[Image courtesy of filmdrunk.uproxx.com]