Entertainment

Soundtrack Review: Daft Punk’s Classical Meets Cyberpunk Approach to “Tron: Legacy”

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Los Angeles’ coolest public radio station, KCRW, invited Culturemob to sit in on an invite only, exclusive listening party to check out the new sound track for Tron: Legacy, scored by the ultra elusive duo, Daft Punk. What can I say? This job is just chock full of goodies, and today was no exception. Don’t despair if you missed it though, because KCRW is going to broadcast highlights of the interview on it’s show Morning Becomes Eclectic at 10AM PST Monday, November 29th, and stream it in its entirety at KCRW.com

Let me just start out my saying that if you think you know Daft Punk, think again. This highly anticipated soundtrack shows a whole new level of musicianship from the electronic duo that we have all come to know and love. Fans of Daft Punk were so utterly excited about this new work that many months before a peep came out on the mainstream, fake tracks were already circulating the internet. And some of those fake tracks turned out to be pretty good, but no one could have anticipated the giant leap forward that Daft Punk made with their excursion into this classical movie score.

Only very small snippits have been heard by the general public so far, so today’s listening party was a first, and I have to say, this may well be one of those epic top ten soundtracks that everyone has to own. Of course, the real pleasure of the listening party was the conversation between Director Joseph Kosinski, and KCRW Music Director and Tron: Legacy Music Supervisor Jason Bently.

As Kozinski related how unusual it is to have composers on board and committed to a single project for a two years, the impression given was that this was a tireless undertaking, with great trust and teamwork given on both sides. “There was a lot of back and forth” Kozinski explained. “The level of collaboration and openness that they [Daft Punk] gave us with this film was utterly astounding.”

Bently told the audience about the process of finding the right composers to work with Daft Punk to score the film and drew a chuckle from the crowd as he described the eccentricities of the duo who “as we drove around town meeting composers, would follow us in this little convertible Peugeot… they were such characters.” Yet even when enticed with the opportunity to work with composer Hanz Zimmer, they chose to go it alone; arguably a massive undertaking for two musicians moving from two synthesizers and a drum machine to a 90 piece orchestra. Kozinski, sharing his reasoning behind his decision to let them go it alone said, “they are very meticulous and don’t do anything without thinking about it. During that process, what kept me going was that I knew creatively we were in the right spot. We both wanted that classic score.”

When asked if it was difficult to translate this electronic sound to a 90 piece orchestra, both guests deferred to the film’s orchestrator, Joseph Trapanese, who was also in attendance. As the entire room’s attention was diverted to him, sitting in an unassuming spot at the top of the stairs, he modestly diverted attention from himself with a short but amusing quote. “It seems complicated at the end of the day, but it was actually pretty simple. I was locked in a room with two robots for a couple of years.”

The collaborative process of this soundtrack went well beyond the recording studio to help the cast of the film as well, as Kozinski described his use of the demo tracks to help actress Olivia Wilde get a feel for Clue, a computer generated character whom she had never seen before. Says Kozinski, “Music has this ability to answer so many questions without even saying anything.” So when Wilde came to Kozinski, explaining her frustration over trying to interact with a character that she didn’t really know, he played Clue’s theme for her. Her response: “I got it!”

There is so much more to tell you about this fantastic conversation, but if I do that, then I will spoil the surprise. Avid fans will just have to tune into KCRW on the 29th to get the whole story and enjoy the preview of the most anticipated soundtrack of the year. For now, here’s a little teaser of the five tracks that I was privileged to hear.

“Solar Sailor” – Haunting, visceral, feel it in your bones. Imagine moving down a corridor while an awe inspiring vista opens before you. This song was one of the original two demos that Daft Punk provided to Bentley as a sample. After having been altered for the mood, Bentley explained that they changed it back to it’s original form, wanting a return to the original mood. I think that this will be the second track of the end titles. My recommendation, stay in your seats and listen thru to the end.

“Recognizer Capture” – This is the song that will be playing when the 3-D action really starts. Joseph explained that he felt this track needed “to be on the level with what you are seeing.” It is a high intensity track, with heavy rhythmic string attack and soaring horns, relating pent up anticipation and release. Bently glowed over the piece as the last notes trailed away saying “with this cue, you can really feel how Daft Punk had a command of the orchestral.”

“Adagio” – I think that I may agree with Kozinski here in that this may be the favorite track I heard from the score. I agree with Bently as well when he said that, “it is surprising to realize that this is Daft Punk.” This track shows their flexibility and true pioneering spirit into a new genre. It hit me in the gut, with the power, the picture of awe and tension drawn by the staccato rhythm of the strings and the soaring horns, and then left me feeling completely hollow as a lone string took over in the end. I can’t wait to hear it again.

“Disc Wars” –This is a fantastic blend of classical meets electronic with a heavy war drum beat. I think that this track will be playing in a lot of IPODS of Daft Punk devotees over the next year. It strikes me as one of those tracks that you just love to listen to at full volume while your driving just a little too fast down the freeway.

“End Title” This was the classic Daft Punk that we all know and love. A power driven electro-fest. Hopefully it will be part of a feel good ending that leaves the crowd feeling like their $20 and two hours of their life were well spent. I can’t wait to go see this flick.