Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:6 May 2022 


When French electronic duo Daft Punk accepted the invitation to score the Disney Pictures sequel to cult 1982 sci-fi film Tron, they did so with full appreciation of the act they had to follow. Knowing the original film and its music well, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo rolled up their collective sleeves and set about making something that would honour the legacy. Their aim was to integrate orchestral and electronic components to make a satisfying hybrid reflecting the computer/organic theme of both the original film and the sequel, Tron Legacy, which had its cinematic release in 2010. It would be a challenge.

Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski met with the pair, observing that it "was almost like they were interviewing me to make sure that I was going to hold up (sic) to the Tron legacy." This will not be surprising to fans of electronic music who know that the original Tron soundtrack was created by synthesiser pioneer and innovator, composer Wendy Carlos. The bar was set high.

From the opening "Overture", the style is clear. The London Orchestra, led by Thomas Bowes, presents a serious, somewhat sombre theme that swells to oceanic waves in a way only an orchestra can. Then the voice of Jeff Bridges introduces us to "The Grid", the digital world inside the computer, and the music flows into "The Son of Flynn", an energetic piece of modern electronica that snaps like a synapse gate.

The orchestral score, leavened by the spice of Daft Punk’s signature electronic sound, keeps the current well and truly flowing. The music reminds us how strings and synthesisers can work together, just as the Wendy Carlos compositions did some thirty years ago.

One place Daft Punk add their own colour and identity to the process is in their deft integration of the bottom end of the sonic spectrum. The use of orchestral percussion and electronic drums is executed with dramatic flair. Indeed, often the arrangements are so smooth and balanced that it is hard to distinguish the instrumental voices. The flow from "The Game has Changed" into "Outlands" illustrates this beautifully.

A welcome addition to the 2022 re-issue of the Tron Legacy soundtrack is the fourth side of the double LP, a collection of seven bonus tracks. Beginning with "Sea of Simulation", a melodic piece in the style of Daft Punk countryman Jean-Michel Jarre, this music expands the album in a way that fans can truly celebrate. Here is one occasion where the bonuses match the quality of the original release.

Soundtracks appeal to different people for different reasons.

Obviously one group are cinema goers who loved the film and want a memento/reminder of the experience. Another consists of fans of the artist who created the music, in this case the French duo. Then there are those who love a particular type of music—electronica, for example—and will seek out any source of their favourite style. Finally, some people simply love—and collect—the genre 'Soundtrack Music', appreciating the enormous diversity of music used in film. Which of these groups would be satisfied with Tron Legacy? Why, all four. It’s a winner at every level.


© Bruce Jenkins 2022

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