Sound tracking a film is a musician’s dream. Being given the autonomy to provide emotional triggers to a visual work of art and to work in multimedia is the golden chalice for anyone who picks up an instrument.
Daft Punk’s electro dance has always leant itself to visual media and their videos have been art works in their own right, from the choreography of Around The World to their manga series Interstellar 555 and their own minimalist film Electroma, they are the populist Matthew Barney, making Cremaster cycles you can dance to. So pairing them with Disney and giving them a 100-piece orchestra is probably not far off their own pursuits anyway. However, it is inspired for several reasons:
• Remakes, prequels and sequels of established (and not so established) franchises are flooding the release schedules with depressing regularity. The announcement of Daft Punk’s presence immediately adds something different and brings the affiliated populist sheen the act have become synonymous with. This album will sell by the bucketload and bring people to the film as a consequence.
• It shows that Disney is willing to take risks and invest in quality. While their fee for composing probably doesn’t dent the overall cost of the production, Disney is still employing the services of two of the most expensive composers active in music today.
• Daft Punk’s credibility makes up for the cringeworthy claims that this is a father-son relationship film. Anyone thinking people will go and see TRON: Legacy for the man hugs has got their marketing spiel wrong and is trying to sell something that no one is interested in.
So clearly this was never going to be anything but a strong musical release. Daft Punk are able to escalate expansive beauty and the tension of life-affecting concentration at the same time, be it with the pounding of an enormous orchestra or the taut wiggling of keyboard arpeggios. The danger and relief within this sci-fi landscape rotate lovingly in compositions such as Outlands and Adagio for Tron. Across the score the interplay between acoustic and electronic instruments are perfectly balanced and genuinely new and refreshing in sound.
This is actually what surprises most about the soundtrack – we expect the tension and the Mike Oldfield comparisons. This is best is when it actually sounds like the softer moments of John Barry’s work or the sawing sadness of Angelo Badalamenti, as in Nocturne. Who knows, maybe there will be the man hugs to bring a tear to you eye and maybe those will be the best bits?
More than anything, the TRON: Legacy soundtrack has provided Daft Punk with the opportunity to expand their CV, an opportunity they have grabbed and suitably throttled. For 90 per cent this sounds like the unbearable tension of a Philip K Dick nightmare with today’s most crunching beats underfoot, the other ten per cent show a delicate ear for classicism the band have not yet needed to dispatch. It’s almost frustrating that they have the ability to ebb strings and woodwind so deliciously with such apparent ease. If this unstoppable act are anything to go by, Disney needs not fear the potential black hole of a seismic production budget, or if it does flop at the box office, it will be sound tracked in style.
• Also available as a 2-disc Special Edition, with a UK RRP of £19.99