Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Daft Punk Soundtrack Is The Ultimate TRON Experience

To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Tron, Mark Schelske is doing a series of articles on all things Tron-related.  Today, he writes about the music of Daft Punk and the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy.

The soundtrack to Tron: The Original Classic is by Wendy Carlos and features the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  I never bought it, even though one of my favorite bands at the time, Journey, had two songs on it.  Journey’s music used to play in the arcades and roller rinks back in the early 1980s and should’ve been a good fit, but somehow the synthesizer sound of Carlos and the rock music of Journey did not mix well together on the soundtrack.

Then came Daft Punk in 2010.  Their repetitive yet dramatic sound in Tron: Legacy stunned me.  I haven’t listened to a soundtrack more since the original Star Wars score by John Williams.  I forgot that I could enjoy songs without lyrics.  Moreover, I didn’t know I’d end up loving symphony music.   
One of my sentimental favorites from A New Hope is "Cantina Band" followed by "Cantina Band #2" - a snappy tune that always reminds me of being a seven year old boy awed by Ithorians, Aqualish, Devaronians, Biths, Duros, Rodians, and Wookiees for the first time.  No science fiction or fantasy soundtrack has done the same for me since, not even James Horner’s amazing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

So the unexpected happened in Tron: Legacy when Sam Flynn followed Gem in his search for Zuse.  I got hit with the audio awe of "End of Line" followed by "Derezzed" followed by "Fall."  This electronica sequence felt like a one, two, three punch to my inner ear.  I didn’t know I’d end up loving electronica.  When Kevin Flynn - his head illuminated by a lighted hood - pressed his hands to the floor at the End of Line Club, I got a deep chill from Daft Punk’s thrumming beat in "Fall."  What an amazing audio boost to demonstrate Flynn’s power as a User.  I wish the movie had more of this magic. 

I think the greatest compliment to Daft Punk’s achievement is how their soundtrack can be set to different movies such as The Matrix.  My favorite mash-up on YouTube is Daft Punk’s "The Game Has Changed" applied to the light cycle battle from Tron: The Original Classic.  Please watch to seen how easily their sound is integrated into the 1982 movie:

Now watch the light cycle battle in the sequel, for which they produced "The Game Has Changed," and you can see how Legacy is re-imagining the same scene.

At the end of the original scene, the father, Kevin, says, “This is it, come on.”  Then his son, Sam, repeats it in the sequel, “This is it, come on.”  I find myself saying the same thing when telling others that Daft Punk’s soundtrack is the ultimate Tron experience:  “This is it, come on.”