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New Music for "The Grid"

E82’s TRON: Legacy Soundtrack Review
Earlier this year, as the excitement and anticipation was building toward TRON: Legacy’s release, a question was posed: Will “TRON: Legacy” be the “2001” for this generation?
While not having seen the film, it’s quite easy to see the comparison in many moments of the score. Additionally, the Daft Punk Soundtrack references several Sci-fi Scores and Classical music pieces. It’s almost unbelievable that two electronic artists could have developed such an amazing amount of scope a depth in such a singular work.

In preparation for the film I, like many TRONophiles, began listening to a lot of Daft Punk. To be completely honest, there‘s only a few songs that I love listening too. (Mostly from the Discovery album) It should also come as no surprise that they are the ones that were most influenced by the original TRON film. The group’s Aerodynamic, Digital Love, Voyager, and Veridis Quo (Which translated literally means “Very Disco”) are very much from the TRON Universe. In the case of Digital Love, the song is bookended by an effect that sounds as if it was taken directly from Wendy Carlos’ original TRON score.
The thing that is the most impressive about Daft Punk is their ability to take noise (or industrial grind) and create new and interesting musical compositions. In listening to their music my reactions often remind me of the reactions of audiences to Stravinsky’s music a century ago. In both cases, the music is at first strange and seemingly “incorrect.” However, upon second and third exposure the startling nature of songs like Aerodynamic are revealed to be both edgy and beautiful.

Soundscape of “The Grid”

As difficult as it is to describe the power, heart, and emotion that this score possesses, I will nevertheless attempt to do my best to describe my impressions of TRON: Legacy as a strictly musical work. Every track of this seminal work is worth review, but in the interest of time I’ll be focusing on those of historical reference or classical interest…


--Overture – Adagio for Tron--
I must say, (having not seen the film) I sincerely hope that the Overture is also accurately represented in the film itself. This film is so epic both in reach and in tone that allowing one to be enveloped into the “World of TRON” sonically before the film would be an extremely effective and nostalgic device.
This particular piece is has a lot of reference 2001’s “Overture: Atmospheres” and has similar strains with the initial build-up to “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” The piece ends with an exclusively orchestral version of the TRON Main Theme. Another strong comparison can be made between the "Gayaneh Ballet Suite" and the beautifully melancholy strains of “Adagio for Tron.” The sadness of this track is so descriptive that even without seeing the film it basically gives the story away.

--Arena - Rinzler - The Game has Changed - Round One - Disc Wars--
A deadly undercurrent of progressive beats and low tempos which inspires both excitement and fear, all of these tracks carry a similarly dark a foreboding tone. Ironically, (and impressively) these action pieces seem to have no “Mickey-Mousing.” Warning: Although fun, these tracks can cause a small amount of recklessness if listened to while driving!

--Recognizer - Arrival – The Grid--
Once a bright environment for programs to interact, CLU has turned turn the TRON System into an almost post-apocalyptic dystopia with massive totalitarian overtones. This aspect of Legacy’s storyline practically screams for Vangelis-style interpretation. In the case of Recognizer the visuals for this scene are almost identical to those found in the Ridley Scott film. Arrival itself sounds as if it was lifted from the Vangelis score itself.

--The Son of Flynn– Armory - Nocturne - Solar Sailer - Sea of Simulation--
There is so much that is visual about this soundtrack, these tracks are appropriately electronic and somber. A particular fan favorite, Solar Sailer, is one the most beautiful and majestic tracks on the album. It’s really the emotional core of TRON Legacy. This should come as no surprise as this was one of the first two demo tracks Daft Punk composed for the film over two years ago. Director, Joe Kosinski said in an interview that the original version of Solar Sailer was changed during production but later reverted to an arrangement closer to the initial version.

--Fall – Rectifier – C.L.U.- Encom Parts I & II – Reflections –-
All of these tracks feature CLU’s theme. Epic is such a small word for this. In particular, C.L.U. is truly the hidden gem of this score. It has trace elements found in the best of Wagner’s Sagas with influences that range from Kismet to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. (All of which, are a couple centuries removed!) It’s powerful and percussive beats in combination with scope-expanding strings and finally the crescendo inducing Industrial Grind that is Daft Punk! The electronic elements of this piece always manage to sneak-up and surprise me. The piece is actually my favorite from the score!

--End of Line – Derezzed - TRON Legacy(End Titles) – Castor--
These are classic Daft Punk! With most of these tracks occurring within the End of Line club, they are catchy and bound to have you hitting repeat after most of them. Personally I can’t wait for our French Robots to release TRON’s “Club” Album!

--Outlands Parts I & II, Father and Son, Finale--
The dynamic between Kelvin, CLU, and Sam reminds me of nothing less than the classic story of God, Lucifer and Jesus. Kelvin creates CLU in his own image and endows him with incredible power and abilities. CLU (like the MCP before him), believes himself to be better than his creator and becomes the ruler of the air. Sam, the actual son of God (no wait, I mean Flynn) comes to the digital world to restore sovereignty and overtake the distorted and arrogant CLU. This is probably a little more than you’d expect soundtrack review to be but I always go deeper. And, to be quite honest this kind of allegory is expected considering the writers, Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz have spent the last several years “re-interpreting the Bible” and setting it on a tropical “Island.”
These themes are what sets TRON Legacy apart from its predecessor. Steven Lisberger’s original film introduced the world (although unknowingly) to the concepts that would eventually change the life of almost every person on this planet. These themes and the film that they’re created for give those concepts meaning and perspective in our ever changing world.

Geospheric Perspectives
It’s only fitting (and appropriate) that TRON and EPCOT should be linked together. TRON Legacy is no exception. If you read the credits you’ll find that Bruce Broughton provided consultation and none other than “Reflections of Earth” composer Gavin Greenaway conducted the orchestra!
On a personal note, the entire musical journey of TRON Legacy was a very emotional one for me. Not since the Millennium Celebration Album have I been so completely obsessed with a musical work. And, not since EPCOT Center’s original 1982 Entrance Plaza have I heard such a perfect marriage of the electronic and classical. As a person who always has one foot firmly planted in the past and the other stretching far into the future, this music seems almost tailor-made for my DNA, and specifically timed to provoke the maximum emotional effect.

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