The dystopian robotic diptych of Daft Punk certainly insist on doing things properly. Where many of their digital brethren are content serving up assimilated and fractal versions of previous work, this Parisian duo prefer to bow low to the mantra that less is more. Just two albums and two live albums (both named ‘Alive’) to keep us going and the odd weird film like Electroma, which revealed their fixation with lost or weird worlds.
So Daft Punk were understandably the first with their hands up to score the remake of legendary film Tron. Both being successful robots in their own making, and obviously not too shabby in the studio, the people at Disney did a Man from Delmonte and said ‘Yes’.
Assembling a symphony of a hundred musicians in London’s AIR studios they debuted as orchestral conductors, writing over twenty emotive cinematic movements for the slick plot where a son follows his lost father into a computer game in which he’s been trapped for twenty-five years.
The resulting music is a studiously solid offering that has all the grandeur and dystopian trajectory of acclaimed godfather of cinematic scores Vangelis (Blade Runner) but with the odd cheeky electronic bed from which their sonic structures can twist and grow.
Disney naturally takes any audience through the full gamut of human emotions thus we find ‘Recogniser’ and ‘Arena’ are all pulsating, decaying strings with explosive brass that intimates a towering horizon of an event. After the action there’s a fading melancholia of strings on ‘Adagio’, regret through descending scales on ‘Nocturne’, fear through the massive looming kettle drums and chiming but muddied melodies on ‘End Of Line’, whilst ‘Rectifier’ and ‘Disc Wars’ do everything to evoke disturbing and unsettling emotions of combat as the audience no doubt clutch sweaty popcorn on the sleeve of a new lover.
As a debut attempt at writing music for an orchestra it’s an epic success. As a stand-alone album, what Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have created won’t sate the disco heads screaming for more club material, however as an accomplished score it can only make a legendary film yet more cherished. Refreshingly good homework.
Words by Matthew Bennett