Raise your hand if, back in 2001 when Discovery was making the rounds as the dance record of the decade, you would have ever thought that Daft Punk would make a soundtrack to a Disney movie that featured equal parts electronica and orchestral music. Well, it’s here, as the legendary French duo channel their efforts into TRON: Legacy, the soundtrack for the film of the same name. Filled with brooding instrumentals (and a short Jeff Bridges dialogue cameo on “The Grid”) of both classical and electronic nature, the album feels like a swelling wave that crashes over and over on the emotions. There are very few melodies on the album; in fact, it feels like two songs fighting each other throughout the entirety of the record, one side fighting for positive space and the other for negative (those who have seen the original TRON will understand my meaning). Here, the positive space is everything we expect from a Daft Punk production: electronic dance beats with just a hint more of sinister undertones than what is common for them. It is the negative space however that truly makes this soundtrack shine: who knew that Daft Punk would create a majestic orchestral album?
It is impossible to single out too many tracks for their excellence, so instead, the contrast between “TRON Legacy (End Credits)” and “Finale” serves as the best way to analyze why this is truly a work of art. On the former, Daft Punk creates a vibrant, laser-filled banger that could easily fit in any nightclub from New York to Tokyo, while the latter eschews the last 200 years of music developments in order to find an emotional sweet-spot within the strings and percussions, swelling into an appropriately grand “Finale”. While most definitely a soundtrack, TRON: Legacy works as a standalone album due to the gauntlet of emotions that it runs through, without so much as a single sung line. By blending past and present (and future), Daft Punk has created an album that speaks not only to the movie it scores, but also to the evolution of music that has allowed them to create the album in the first place.