With Tron: Legacy, the soundtrack for the new Disney movie that opens Dec 17, Daft Punk unleashes its electronic power once again. A film pivoting on technology, digital effects and the virtual world, it’s no wonder director Joseph Kosinski chose the French duo for the job: their electro-house dance music has graced clubs and raves since the early 1990s, and they’ve even racked up a few Grammys.

Daft Punk

Tron: Legacy
Walt Disney

The jolt of Tron: Legacy, however, is a far leap from past hits like “One More Time” and “Technologic” that commonly blast through swarms of partiers at night clubs. While the soundtrack is composed with Daft Punk’s well-known precision and French house influences, it showcases a new depth and maturity, as well as an 85-piece orchestra. This change may come as a shock to glow stick-waving rave kids, but to everyone else, the soundtrack is musical bliss, a blend of mighty sounds and emotions woven together in intricacy.

Daft Punk’s development of sound is evident in the very first track, “Overture,” opening the album with slow, passionate violins and throaty horns. The intensity gradually builds throughout the song, transforming into a crescendo of crashing symbols. It seethes tragedy and strength without sounding over the top — everything one would hope to hear during a Disney movie about cyber battles in a digital universe.

“Outlands” also features this internal maturation, as the track’s opening violin part is met with the deep cries of the bass drum and brass section. What was initially a quiet string part is pumped up with the force of an entire orchestra, and the layers fuse together with fury. “Recognizer” operates similarly giving birth to energy between the different textures of music. In these contexts, it’s hard not to imagine virtual battles between heroes and super villains: the frantic violins and solid bass drum violently rage against one another with every beat.

Still, it’s impossible for a diehard Daft Punk fan to listen to the soundtrack without feeling some sense of longing for the group’s typical music; the album bears few similarities to the duo’s dance albums. These tracks just don’t have the same peppy vibe as past work and the intensity can almost feel a bit weighty at times. But tracks like “Derezzed” and “End of the Line” help to counteract this, with the fiery beats and synthesizer parts that brought Daft Punk to popularity in the first place. None of these songs are as upbeat or dance-worthy as the artists’ past work, but they offer light, rhythmic relief from the heavy currents charging through the rest of the album.

Parisian clubbers may be mourning the loss of a new weekend dance mix, but as far as the big screen is concerned, Tron: Legacy is far from a power failure. It delivers the ferocity and storm of sentiment expected from a major motion picture, charged with excitement without feeling forced. Each track flows cohesively without sounding monotonous, constantly changing and challenging the last with new layers of beats and sounds.

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