Long Story: Well, it was the beginning of the end of December last year when Atomika wrote his short and succinct review on Tron Legacy. I myself had every intention of listening to it and reviewing it, but several reasons hampered me (which I'll get to later!). Needless to say, by the time I downloaded the album and listened to it enough times to feel confident to review it, the old thread had dried up and I felt like I missed my opportunity. But, because I love taking requests (even if it's from only ONE person), I'm going to attempt to grunt and whine my way through why I love and loathe the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy.
Short Story: Bitch be lazy so he didn't write a review until he had homework to do, and now has a reason to stall out finishing his assignment that's due tomorrow.
Yeah, well I didn't get a hardcopy of this. I could've easily gotten one though, I've seen them at all the dedicated music stores and were "relatively" cheap ("relatively" because 99 times out of 100 I end up torrenting it, so I have really no idea how much it should cost). But I didn't get it, due to my literal sickness that I felt when I heard how Disney had marketed the album (more on that later).
So, err...I like the cover! It looks all neat and tidy, short, to the point yet says everything you need to know about the album.
Immediately that bring's to mind both yesteryear and futurism, and reminds you of the 80's vision of tomorrow (which the movie strides for). And that's exactly what the soundtrack is trying to do to. So yeah, the front cover...I like it?
Okay, two important things I need to note before I get into the nitty gritty stuff.
I didn't watch the movie. I plan to but I was too busy celebrating the end of Yr 11 and two of my VCE results that I (and my friends) were too lazy to go and see it. I fully intend to watch it...later.
Another thing is...well, just look.
CD 1 Tracklist:
01. Overture (02:28)
02. The Grid (01:36)
03. The Son Of Flynn (01:35)
04. Recognizer (02:37)
05. Armory (02:03)
06. Arena (01:33)
07. Rinzler (02:17)
08. The Game Has Changed (03:25)
09. Outlands (02:42)
10. Adagio For TRON (04:11)
11. Nocturne (01:41)
12. End Of Line (02:36)
13. Derezzed (01:44)
14. Fall (01:22)
15. Solar Sailer (02:42)
16. Rectifier (02:14)
17. Disc Wars (04:11)
18. C.L.U. (04:39)
19. Arrival (02:00)
20. Flynn Lives (03:22)
21. TRON Legacy (End Titles) (03:17)
22. Finale (04:22)
Limited Edition Extra Tracks
1. ENCOM, Part I (3:53)
2. ENCOM, Part II (2:18)
3. Round One (1:41)
4. Castor (2:19)
5. Reflections (2:42)
iTunes Bonus Tracks
1. Father and Son (3:12)
2. Outlands, Part II (2:53)
Amazon.com Bonus Track
1. Sea of Simulation (2:41)
Nokia Ovi Bonus Track
1. Sunrise Prelude (02:50)
I was originally going to buy this at my local music store, since it's actually been advertised in quite a few places, which surprised me at first, until I realised most people would jump in and buy "A NEW DAFT PUNK SOUNDTRACK" not bothering to check whether the soundtrack was 95% orchestral. If I did, it would make one of only two soundtracks I actually have a physical copy of (the other being the Pokemon Anime OST that I reviewed a while ago).
But alas, I truly underestimated the sheer greed of the Walt Disney company.
This is, hands down, the most disgraceful cash grab involving any movie score I've ever seen, and I feel positive in saying that this new low in corporate capitalism won't be outdone in the near future (on the soundtrack front, at least). Here's as much sense as I can make out on it. The standard score that most of you saw at your music stores a while ago contain around 59 minutes of released score. At the same time, a Limited Edition score was released, which contained all the music from the original album, as well as five bonus tracks. Well, why don't you get that one? Well, if you live in the U.S of A, or anywhere other then Europe in fact, you'll be forced to go on the good 'ol Ebay or Amazon to track it down, as it appears to be a
Europeon-only release. Speaking of Amazon, the MP3 download of the album contains one, count em ONE, bonus track for download. iTunes, too, has two bonus tracks for it's MP3 download, which you intitially had to buy and download the entire soundtrack to get (although thankful this has been rectified). Then there's that Nokia Ovi bonus, which was initially avaiable to Nokia users only (although you can purchase it from their store now, even if your not with them). All these tracks add up to around 80 minutes, but in order to acquire it all, you'd be required to get three out of five available products (fully) and manually mash the tracks together to get anything resembling a final product. Never mind that 80 minutes of music could fit neatly on 1CD, let alone one product, but it resembles, prehaps moreso then corporate capitalism, corporate stupidity.
You see, when I see something like this, sure it makes me angry, but it also makes me laugh and sigh in disbelief at the utter moronic nature of it all. You have to ask what Disney was thinking, employing a capitilist strategy like this. Maybe he was stuck in 80's mode (very much like the movie), and admitedly such a ploy would've worked back then. But today, especially the situtation surrounding the musc industry at the moment, and that's before you factor in the type of tech-saavy audience this type of movie would attract, as well as the general Daft Punk fanbase, it just...makes...no...sense.
Of course, inevitably, the "illegal file sharing bonnaza" has truly peaked, now there are now a variety of mirrors and sites that have compiled all the music in one place for downloads, which is more then I can ask of the good people at the Walt Disney company. It's of my firm opinion that the sheer greed on display here also compelled many willingly paying customers to bootleg it, in which case good on 'em for sticking a finger at this. As Anonymous would say, "Down with this sort of thing!".
Holy shitballz okay, music time.
So we start off with "Overture", which builds at a snails pace until we get a quiet introduction to the main hero theme, before a bolder statement near the end, complete with crashing brass (for the epicness) and an electric keyboard seemingly thrown in (and really takes a backseat to the traditional orchestration). It immeadiately alerts one to the fact that this is going to be a mainly orchestral track, although the small level of electronic sounds in this piece doesn't really illustrate fully what the scores all about.
Don't worry, that job is left up to the next piece, "The Grid", which more fully integrates electronics and is more representative of the synthetic soundscape. Interetingly, the track starts of with a small Jeff Bridges narration, which I'm usually completely against in a orchestral soundtrack (if I wanted to hear voices, I listen to the radio!). But the fact that it's only one track, it introduces the world of...well, the Grid, it fits very well into the mood of the beginning of the track, and that Jeff Bridges voice is so hypnotic (damn it, I have a man crush on a voice!) makes it fan-freakin-tastic, and I don't mind in the slightest. After the narration, we get a statement of the main theme again, but this time more fully integrated with electric sounds that better represents what the whole soundtrack is all about.
"The Son of Flynn" is the first fully electronic track (don't get used to it), a very cool, but brief 180 degree turn from "Overture". It's a funky track comprised entirely of a electronic keyboard wailing away, which for some reason makes me feel like I'm riding a motorcycle at night. Really cool.
Finally, we get into the full swing of things with "Recognizer", which is probably the best representation of the entire soundtrack so far. Here you get to admire how seemlessly the electronic and more traditional orchestra blend together, especially when the main theme plays near the end of the track (fitting, since it is the first track that takes place in the world of the Grid, therefore serving as a great introduction).
After the awesomeness the first four tracks, we go into a bit of a lull for the next couple. "Armoury" is another electronic track, but it's very subdued and brooding, with no buildup to anything (but that's okay, since the last three out of four tracks were half buildup). It leads very well into "Arena", which is 95% buildup (assuming the main characters introduction to a colliseum of some sort), although thankfully the buildup is nicey paced, unlike the molasses start of "Overture".
It all leads to "Rinzler", which introduces us to these weird-as drum beats which are incorporated with this synthetic...something that sounds very alien and electronic. It's like nothing I've heard ever before, like stricking an electronic drum that has water droplets or rice grains on it, which proceed to boil upon impact with the ground. These drum things will show up later, which is cool because they sound very out-there. The track itself itself feels like the first action piece of the soundtrack, and again there's a nice display of violins blending harmoniously with the crashing and bashing of the synthetic elements.
"The Game Has Changed" sounds very much like the previous track, and sounds like it could fit well within the trailer for the movie. It's neither fast nor slow, and those weird drum things are back too, and again represents the hard work of incorperating strings and ochestral elements with a steady, electro beat (even moreso then "Rinzler").
Whereas "The Game Has Changed" had both the traditional and electronic elements keep pace with each other, "Outlands" is a primarily violin-driven piece, with (surprisingly) the sythetic elements trying to keep up with the brisk pace of the strings. It definitely shows how Daft Punk have experimented with blending the two elements together, and how they show no preference to either one, instead treating both of them as equally important.
Unfortunately, after the sucessful mood built in the last three pieces, we hit what many percieve as a complete wall block in "Adagio for TRON", an almost completely orchestral piece. Whereas the violins in "Outlands" move very fast, this is what many "normal" people think when orchestral comes to mind; it's slow, it's long (four freakin minutes) and contains next to no electronic elements. Understandably, since Daft Punk were trying to showcase the merits of both both tradition orchestra and electro, it should come as no surprise that something like this is on the track (especially since the complete opposite electro swing rave style of "Derezzed" is also shown) and such things are inevitable with what the duo was trying to achieve. However, even a film music buff like myself found it hard to swallow, especially after the tracks that came before it (and after, for that matter). I can see what they were trying to do, seperating the orchestral stuff as much as possible ("Overture" at the beginning, "Finale" at the end and "Adagio for TRON" smack bang in the middle) but it really does break the flow of the previous three tracks.
Which is a shame, because as far as orchestral goes, it's nice and somewhat somber, and does have a little synthetic element near the middle (not really noteworthy however). But unfortunately, I call it as I see it, and although the track is nice on it's on, on this album it just feels out of place.
We are then treated to "Nocturne", another slow and somber piece that's thankfully short (and electonic!). It's fine, but after the epic slowness of "Adagio for TRON", I want some damn excitement!
However, after the road block we are rewarded with arguably what most people bought the album for, the aforementioned swing rave, purely electro earspeaker blasting synths of "End of Line" and "Derezzed". "End of Line" is the more subdued of the two (not saying much, however). It sets up a brisk, steady beat, but the best part is the awesome 80's videogame sound effects added half-way through. Again, you amaze at it's simplicity and seamlessness, and it's always fun listening just trying to pick out what games the effects could've possibly come from.
And then there's "Derezzed". Oh boy...where do I start. Whereas "Recognizer" is a representation of what the soundtrack really is, "Derezzed" represents what people thought the soundtrack would be, a "fetish score suitable for groupings in night clubs".
I so wanted to hate this track. I really did. There's no traditional orchestra whatsoever, and to like it would be a sign of weakness, a betrayal to all the film scores I've collected over the years. But...it's just too good. It's fast, it's pounding, it's blow-your-speakers loud, but most importantly it's fun. Yes, fun. I can't really put it into words, you need to listen for yourself.
"Fall" encapsulates on the fast pace of "Derezzed", and acts as a good "lead-out" of the sheer epicness of the previous track. Not much again to say, it's fast and brief, yet somehow sets itself for a quiter lull, whereas the end of "Derezzed" begged for more.
This eventually turns out to be correct, as we are lead to "Solar Sailer", which is an exercise in pure atmosphere-building. I can't really describe it as slow, more like...sailing. That's a funny thing I found out while listening to this album; the tracks sound like their titles. "Derezzed" feels...derezzing for the soul, "Solar Sailer" feels...like your sailing among the cosmos. Gah, these tracks leave me lost for words. How can I describe it?
To the best of my knowledge, the next three tracks represent some sort of final showdown between the hero and villain of the film. As such, we have our obligatory build-up in "Rectifier". It very much feels like a much more ominious version of "Arena", although with more orchestra and somewhat longer. The strings are really pushed to the highest octave here; I imagine it would've been earsplitting actually standing next to them.
"Disc Wars" sounds self-explanatory, although I was surprised at how subdued it is for a "final showdown" track. However, it is nicely paced mostly due to the orchestral drum work (no weird electic drum thing here!) and feels quite different from the other action pieces on the album (which is a good thing, considering the "final showdown" track should always be special).
The conflict comes to a head in "C.L.U" which feels much more "final showdown"-esque then "Disc Wars" (probably because it is, although I haven't seen the movie, so...yeah). It's mainly orchestra driven, with occassional LOUD bouts of synthetic thrown in. Definitely the highlight of the action pieces in this album.
After "C.L.U", the remaining tracks are much slower, now that the main conflict of the film is resolved. "Arrival" is a very somber piece, appropriate since to the best of my knowledge it plays during a death scene. It proves the mastery Daft Punk has over the electronic elements of the score; where in one they excite and terrify, in this one they feel dark and sad. A very interesting combination.
We finally end with "Flynn Lives", which finishes the film in an upbeat, heroic fashion. It's basically a faster version of "Overture" with some of the synthetic elements that we've grown accustomed to, while we get a final reprise of the hero theme. As a send-off, it's perfect, and it's definitely a highlight of this album.
The last two tracks are end credits tracks. "TRON Legacy (End Credits)" is a fast track that starts very much in the style of "End of Line" and "Derezzed", before leading into the most electronic representation of the main theme in the album. The first half of "Finale" is exactly the same style as "Adagio for TRON" although the later half thankfully has much more synthetic elements, before one final statement of the main theme. Overall, the two tracks are nice, but as far as final tracks go, "Flynn Lives" still feels much better a sendoff then these two; "Tron Legacy (End Credits)" is too electro swing-y, while "Finale" is just too slow and orchestral. It could've been a lot worst, but thems the brigs.
It's hard not to appreciate the purely unique style of Tron Legacy. Daft Punk (considering their lack of experience for composing the soundtrack) have created a very interesting soundscape, and is far and away the most daring soundtrack of 2010, especially in this day and age, where every second movie score sounds like Hans Zimmer clones.
It's not a perfect album, by any means. As with any soundtrack that tries to combine two styles, not only do you have straight-up failures, but you also have the problem of striking a balance that appeals to both audiences. In many respects, Daft Punk succeeded, as there is certainly something for either audience. But the very nature of the soundtrack means that even the most appreciative fan of either genre will likely find one track that he always skips on this album when it comes up on iTunes shuffles. But, for what they were trying accomlish, overall Daft Punk have succeeeded all expecatation. Truly, this score is an accomplishment. I wholeheartedly recommend at the very least a listen.
P.S: HEY ATOMIKA REMEMBER THIS THING? THAT THING THAT I PROMISED I'D DO BUT I NEVER DID? WELL NOW I'VE DONE IT AND I DON'T CARE IF NO ONE READS IT BECAUSE I DID IT. HOLY SHIT I NEED A BATH.
P.P.S: It goes without saying, but massive tl;dr.