Wow. I am so looking forward to the December release of Disney's Tron: Legacy. And while I am a confessed science-fiction geek, like many others out there, I am eagerly awaiting Tron not just to see the famed computer-grid sets from the '80s original recreated with the latest in computer-aided special effects wizardry, but for the music that goes along with the film.
Daft Punk is playing at that house, that house. The French duo has been bunkered in Los Angeles, creating the score and soundtrack for the film. And, the resulting sounds will make up what will be the band's fourth studio album.
It's a ground-breaking connection between film and music. Sure, there have been rock operas in the past that have been committed to film, from the Who's Quadrophenia and Tommy to Pink Floyd's The Wall. The Flaming Lips made a movie in lead man Wayne Coyne's backyard and recorded the accompanying soundtrack, Christmas on Mars played on old Soviet science-fiction films—think Solyaris, with a heavy dose of good old American eccentricity. Daft Punk itself has Interstella 5555—a Japanese anime film that was inspired by the band's second album, Discovery, on its resume. The film used Daft Punk's music as the inspiration for a tale of a madman who kidnaps rock bands from other worlds and enslaves them on Earth.
But none of these examples can compare to Tron: Legacy. In all of those other collaborations between bands and filmmakers, the movies were inspired by the music. The songs came first.
But, can you think of a time when a band has been given complete control to score someone else's movie, then release said score/soundtrack as a legitimate studio release? I can't.
(And that's the point. No one out there is writing or talking about the soundtrack as a soundtrack. There are message boards out there dedicated to questions like "Will we be able to dance to this?" and "Who is doing the remixes?" No one is seeing this as a self-indulgent exercise in bleeps and bloops to accompany a film about bleeps and bloops).
The band is in the movie, but it is someone else's movie. The band didn't inspire Disney to remake Tron. Yet, even before the film comes out, you can't talk about the project without bringing up Daft Punk's soundtrack. In fact, it's almost as if the film is just a video for the band's album.
As important as Daft Punk is considered in the world of electronic music, the duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo isn't prolific. The Tron: Legacy soundtrack will be only the band's fourth studio effort since 1997, and the first since 2005's Human After All.
The fact that it took the film to actually inspire the pair to put out new music will only add to the Tron hoopla. Snippets of some of the songs can be found on the official Disney site for the film. The Internet has been inundated with alleged leaked tracks; just go to YouTube and search for "Daft Punk Tron" and you will find dozens of songs that have been heard hundreds of thousands of times by fans who want to believe that the music they've found is indeed a leak, not just someone hashing out something in a basement studio and passing it off as DP.
It's a sign of the anticipation level for both film and soundtrack. And, with the Disney machine promoting this film, Daft Punk couldn't get a better PR firm if the duo tried. The only thing that could ruin this marriage is if both the music and film, well, suck,
But it can't happen. Tron and Daft Punk? It's like chocolate and peanut butter. You can't screw it up.
Steven Sandor is a former editor-in-chief of Vue Weekly, now an editor and author living in Toronto.