Simply put, Daft Punk's music for Tron: Legacy sets exactly the tone it should: vast, dark, dramatic, rhythmic, cinematic, and best of all, original.
Daft Punk is known for experiments in electronic music, which might make you think that their score here is solely electronic noise in nature. This might fit the themes of the movie in its own way, but there's a lot more to it. The real surprise here is the level of symphonic music that is used, often fused with the electronic instruments, to create waves and rhythms at dramatic moments. I've heard this done before - most notably by Hybrid on their landmark album "Wide Angle" - but I've never heard it done quite like this.
In terms of film music, we're on somewhat more familiar ground. The music for Tron: Legacy is deep and rhythmic and pervasive. There is no simple, catchy hero's theme or menacing villain's cue here, which works to the benefit of the music (and, I expect, the film). Daft Punk instead follows the cue of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard in their Batman music. The pulsing waves of "Recognizer" sound much like something we might have heard in The Dark Knight, but with just enough of a twist to keep it interesting. While listening to Tron: Legacy for the first time, I also thought about the music of Cliff Martinez (Solaris) or Clint Mansell (Moon), but again struck more by contrasts than by similarities. The music of Tron: Legacy may have borrowed from the idea of other composers, but in Daft Punk's able hands those ideas went in different directions and the result is mostly original and stands up nicely on its own.
The album is best listened to from beginning to end, but there are a few tracks that stand out from the pack. I have to admit to a little geeky thrill running up my spine when I heard Jeff Bridges' wonderfully rich voice narrating a few choice lines about "The Grid." You can get your blood pumping to "The Game Has Changed," feel the oppressive danger of the "Recognizer" and bring it to a fever pitch of panic with "Rectifier." The steady, rising notes of "Solar Sailer" set a majestic tone while "Adagio for Tron" brings the emotional crescendo home.
The truth is that the whole album is good, from the first track to the last. Daft Punk's score is a worthy successor to Wendy Carlos' music for the original Tron for this simple reason: it's original. It fuses the electronic and the symphonic, uses what works and breaks some new ground - it excites the senses and flows naturally from the idea of the film.
I only hope the movie is this good! The music makes me more excited to find out.
Grammy award winning electronic duo Daft Punk - who takes music as seriously as TRON fans take computer references - is scoring the upcoming film TRON: Legacy. It's no accident that the group's two visionary musicians, Guy-Manuel de Homen-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, are TRON fans too. Having grown up with an admiration for the ground-breaking TRON film in the 80s, Daft Punk took on the scoring of the next chapter of the story with extraordinary thought and precision. The critically acclaimed French duo composed and produced the album. The Duo assembled a symphony of one hundred world class musicians in London and recorded the orchestra at AIR Lyndhurst Studios, Britain's premier scoring facility.