Friday, November 26, 2010

Daft Punk - Tron Legacy (OMPST) review

Daft Punk hasn't released an album of new material since Human After All in 2005.  Since then, the French duo has dabbled with videogames and released a live album, a remix album, and a compilation album.  In March 2009 the wait for new material had ended with the announcement of Daft Punk being commissioned to score the upcoming film Tron: Legacy.

The highly anticipated album opens with a low, foreboding humming noise that gradually builds into a symphonic string arrangement that is epic in scale, however, it isn't anything you haven't already heard in a number of other film scores.  This sweeping introduction leads into the first truly original piece of music, "The Grid", which continues with the ominous tone via industrial beats that lumber along while a voiceover from film star, Jeff Bridges, recites a bunch of technojargon about circuit boards and of course, the grid.  All of this leads into Bridges' line about how he has dreamed of the world of computers until one day, he "got in".  It is at this point that the string arrangement that drives the first track morph into something wholly electronic.  It is the same melody, but instead of man manipulating instrument, machine has taken over.  Much like the characters in the film, we, the listeners, are immersed into the world of the computer.

It becomes clear from early on that this is not the Daft Punk we are used to.  The soundtrack is not simply composed with a pair of synths, a drum machine, and a bunch of spliced samples from the 70s.  This soundtrack marks a step forward in Daft Punk's sound as they use an 85 piece orchestra to help them create and explore an entirely new musical frontier.  There are so many high points on this album I could easily give each one of the twenty-two tracks (24 if you get it from iTunes) its own separate write up.  But even then it wouldn't do this score justice.  I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of film scores, in my opinion divorcing a score from the film that it was created to accompany causes it to lose some of the emotion that is initially attached to it.  With the Tron: Legacy soundtrack however, each track builds upon the next, creating a musical representation that could easily stand apart from the film.  It is so grand in scope that I would go as far to say that this will easily become one of those soundtracks that every music fan must own.

The string arrangements and the orchestra utilized in the soundtrack appear on almost every track, however what makes this soundtrack a compelling listen is the marriage of traditional instruments and electronica, and how the two intermingle to create a truly organic sound that is both impressive and epic.  Daft Punk have managed to craft each song with the mechanical calculation of a computer, without sacrificing the immediacy and intensity of human emotion.  If the film is half as fun as this soundtrack, then I think it will be well worth the cost of admission.

The Tron: Legacy soundtrack will be released December 7th, 2010.

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