Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Music Review | Tron: Legacy OST by Daft Punk

Tron: Legacy has a lot to prove. The decades-belated sequel to a nostalgic sci-fi "classic" from the early 80s, it's already been the subject of much ado about nothing courtesy of doom-saying industry analysts wondering whether its positioning as this holiday season's blockbuster of choice will be borne out by that old economic chestnut: the numbers. And you know, probably it won't.

But let's take the long view, say there's more to a movie than its box office. And indubitably there is. There's more to Tron: Legacy than a chart of potential profit and loss already, what with the odd beast of a soundtrack synthbotpop double-act Daft Punk have put together for it. That's - yep - the same Daft Punk you're thinking of. The guys with the anime music videos... the Kraftwerk-esque arrangements you're sure to know even if you'd rather you didn't.

So, an hour of music fit to shake your tush to on the dance floor? Surprisingly, not so much. The Game Has Changed, goes the title of track eight - an incredible clashing, hissing crescendo of sound that'd bleed bombast if you cut it - and it's a safe bet you'll come away from this score assured it has. If you're after another album along the lines of Discovery, forgive me for saying it, but these aren't the droids you're looking for.

However, as far as Daft Punk are from their comfort zone, they equip themselves remarkably well. A single, exquisite refrain - sometimes swollen and celebratory, sometimes tender and melancholy - flits deliberately through the soundscape, an intensely memorable motif which handily ties together the disparate threads of the duo's latest efforts. Only thus are Daft Punk able to pull together such a swathe of influences, most notably from Hans Zimmer's stellar score for The Dark Knight in Recognizer and The Game Has Changed, but you don't need to listen closely to pick out strains of Blade Runner in Arrival, touches of (of all things) Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi in Outlander, Nocturne and Finale, and here and there a miscellany of bits owing a debt to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The TerminatorIt shouldn't work, but oddly enough, it does - thanks in no small part to that recurring aural motif, without which I dare say the twenty-odd short pieces Daft Punk have composed for Tron: Legacy would function as one not at all.

The clubbers who Daft Punk have made their bread and butter from before now won't be best pleased by the orchestral Tron: Legacy score, I fear - Derezzed is the duo's only offering in that regard, and while it might appease a few such aficionados, it feels otherwise a sweaty techno token at odds with the remainder of the soundtrack's more considered soaring - but with this album the robot brothers stand to inherit a whole other army of fans. It's more than a little derivative, yes, yet it hits on all the right notes, and the film itself, whatever its eventual legacy, will certainly be the better for it.

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