Newest Review: ... so well the movie's theme of putting real people into the computer's game-like world. ~The Son of Flynn~ A very short, light track, dan... more
Meet me at the End of the Line
Tron Legacy - Daft Punk
Member Name: calypte
Tron Legacy - Daft Punk
Advantages: excellent mix of orchestral film score with an electronica updating
Disadvantages: could be a more cohesive whole
On the other hand, my knowledge of Daft Punk doesn't extend much beyond 'Around the World' (from 1997 - who let that be 15 years ago!?)! Surely a *dance music* (bleugh!) duo can't possibly make a particularly listenable album, even if it is a film score?! So aside from the fact that I had seen the (disappointingly lacklustre) movie I went into this listening experience rather expecting more electronic squawks and beeps. Such a surprise, then, to find this album full of very classical-sounding, orchestral music. Even several listens in, I was continually surprised by how heavily this leans towards more conventional film orchestration - with just enough electronica to lift it from the herd, make this album something a bit different and certainly one of my new favourite film scores!
Perhaps more surprising is the overall tone: I associate dance music with happy, upbeat (if often moronic) noise; the Tron Legacy soundtrack isn't just not dance, it's practically downbeat to the point of yearningly blue; solemn almost to the point of having something to prove. And then there's just the all-too-brief blast of something altogether other! Overall, just a great marriage, to my ears.
Now... I'm not hugely a fan of the track-by-track breakdown, but movie scores are different: there's a story to follow, after all! Word of warning then: if you haven't seen the movie there are a few, small possible spoilers below. I'll try to be brief - like the tracks, many of which are quite short (sub-2 minutes) with the whole album coming in at around the hour mark.
A very quiet start, slowly introducing the main theme that is to run through the rest of the album. It's a stately orchestral piece - giving some hint that this album may not be quite as you'd expect!
Jeff Bridges' spoken-word piece briefly explaining a little about the world of Tron, over a more electronic version of the previous track. I love the slight other-worldliness, which suits so well the movie's theme of putting real people into the computer's game-like world.
~The Son of Flynn~
A very short, light track, dancing over the keyboard with the orchestra underneath. In the movie, we're being introduced to the now-adult Sam, son of Kevin Flynn, whose disappearance (some years after his ventures into the original Tron) forms the background to this sequel.
In the movies the Recognizers are a sort of policing force so this track appropriately brings in a darkness (along with a few brass-blasts reminiscent of 'Inception'). It also almost seems to lose the electronica in favour of a full orchestra - as I said, rather a surprise to expectations, perhaps, particularly as this is the point where the movie (in the cinema, at least) switched from 'conventional' 2D to 3D!
Veering back away from the orchestra a bit, and this track is more a bridging-piece rather than one of the movie's themes, as Sam is kitted out for his 'adventure' on The Grid!
Starts so quietly, it's almost a shock when the electronic pulse starts to build! A very short piece that stops rather suddenly, leaving you wanting more...
...and this is it. Sam Flynn faces Tron's prime warrior-enforcer, a dark and mysterious character who gets a suitably threatening theme, merging a dark electric underbeat with powerful strings.
~The Game Has Changed~
As does the score: at this point I feel we move from introducing the various themes into the 'storyline', as it were. As with the previous track, there's a blend of the old and new in the music - making it a clever choice for the trailer, where it featured.
This may sound very familiar, as it's been running with at least one advert of late. Galloping yet delicate strings lead us in to one of the outstanding tracks from the album, in my view, perfectly conjuring a sense of space and travel and momentum. And as with my other favourites, just not quite long enough for me!
~Adagio for Tron~
Along with the classical name, this is a very classical-sounding piece. Sad, and beautiful, and my absolute favourite. You can actually get the sheet music for this! About halfway through there is a more modern element brought in to complement the instruments, but it fits perfectly, as does the track with the flashback it accompanies in the movie.
Segues seamlessly from the above; almost impossible to spot as a separate track!
~End of the Line~
THIS is the signature track, me thinks. For those who haven't seen/remembered the movie, the End of the Line is the club run by a Bowie-esque Michael Sheen. It's not fast, not dance music, but somehow this track makes me want to move. My one complaint is that this really feels like a lifting in the album - like we're just "getting there" - and then it's finished, gone, and we don't come back here at all!
Easily the most upbeat track on the album, along with the loudest and closest to dance music. Not my favourite, but the overall album 'needs' this track, I feel. 'Deresovled' is how a program is killed; this is the attack on the club.
Really momentous, heavy-passion piece, with the electric fuzz noise behind it reminding me of Radiohead, and showing how old and new musical styles can meet well.
Very reminiscent of the original Tron, perhaps because under the orchestral strings is a theme that very much reminds me of the old C64 or even ZX Spectrum games! Almost certainly deliberate, given the original soundtrack featured a track called 'The Light Sailer'. In both cases, the 'Sailer' is Tron transport.
This is a rather dark, semi-disturbing aspect of Tron's world (literally reprogramming!), and the theme is suitably dark and menacing. Back to very pure orchestral, with startled strings and lots of brass that wouldn't sound out of place near (Holtz's) Mars.
Mainly strings, but not the bass and then comes in a subtle bit of synthesizer. Thematically, an anticipation-raising piece. Despite the name, this track isn't accompanying the gladiator-like arena scene, where programs (and the occasional User!) battle each other with Frisbees. Ahem ;)
Quietly unsettling, with some swirly strings to match the movie's chase scene and that Planets-esque brass section going again. About halfway through there's a very subtle synth sub-bass going on.
A big change, both thematically and that the keyboards are more apparent. That said, the merging with the flute is absolutely gorgeous, if a little sad-sounding, matching the confrontation in the movie.
This track is a builder, bringing back in the main theme and a sense of the pace slowly picking up in a rather stately manner - and, of course, the end scenes of the movie!
~Tron Legacy (End Titles)~
This is probably what I expected the album to be more like, heavy on the synthesizer. Still, very listenable rather than just electronics beeping-noises under the main theme. Maybe it's just me, but there is quite a clear demarcation - that we are now listening to a set piece of music, rather than part of a score/storyline.
Sounds very much like that last bit of music you get after the titles have been running a while, and if you're still sitting in the cinema then you're waiting for a post-credit scene...! It's a gentle piece, nice enough but not - and probably not intended to - really stand(ing) out.
~Sea of Simulation~
Very worth waiting for! This is the gentle electronica, vaguely Tubular Bells-ish, that seems so well to sit with the concept and period of (the original) Tron. It's quite dreamy, and a lovely end to the proceedings. It is also so much better than the same-named track from the original score!
That last comment hits on one of the oddities here: Tron is one of the movies of my childhood, remembered with huge fondness, and yet the (recently purchased) score is disappointing. Here, with Tron: Legacy, the absolute opposite holds true: the film so failed to live up to the anticipation, but the accompanying music has almost made me forgive it!
So yes, it's a somewhat sombre listen, but that doesn't mean depressing. I've just listened to it straight through - twice - for the review, and the layers of complexity are still revealing themselves, a year and a half on. I'm not a fan of dance music, or Daft Punk - I suspect fans of either of those are going to be at least disappointed if not utterly loathing of this album: if it is all a bit too mainstream film score-y for your tastes, the 'Tron Legacy: Reconfigured' album features remixes of (some of) the above 23 tracks, with a much more dance slant from what I can tell from the samplers. I'm intrigued, but personally I adore the strong orchestral themes with just that added spice of electronica bringing in something a bit novel.
Recommended, whether you liked - or indeed, saw! - the movie or not.
Summary: Rubbish movie, excellent music!