Given the name and the fact that the wildly popular duo hadn’t released new music in years, expectations were fairly high for Daft Punk‘s work on Tron:Legacy. Unfortunately, the album turned out to be a fairly typical soundtrack, which is to say that most electronic fans were somewhat underwhelmed. Now, arriving late to the party comes a remixed version of the album from some of electronic’s biggest names (all rather surprisingly sanctioned by Disney). The remix album, Tron Legacy: R3CONFIGUR3D, is the electronic-friendly record people were hoping for with the original soundtrack.
Like the original, any review of this album shares the difficulty of this not really, really being a Daft Punk album. They composed all the songs, of course, but the remixes are what give R3CONFIGUR3D its own flavor, and those are done by all manner of folks; from the Crystal Method to Paul Oakenfold and Pretty Lights to Moby. The results are surprisingly consistent, though. Listening to the album straight through feels more like an eclectic concert than a compilation, and that’s meant as a compliment.
The Glitch Mob has the rather unenviable task of opening with “Derezzed”, the big fan favorite from the original soundtrack. They still manage to put their own spin on things, lengthening and altering it into something almost unrecognizable yet still cool. Avicii’s version of the same track is also unique, with more warm synth, a series of smooth transitions, and a shimmery-sounding chime part at the end. It’s hard to imagine editing such a neat track and still doing something innovative with it, but both groups managed, each in their own way.
The Crystal Method has perhaps the best surprise of the album, altering “The Grid” into something endlessly danceable and cleverly layered, all while somehow making the voice track magically un-annoying. That alchemy alone is worth the purchase price of this album in my book. This track went from auto-skip to auto-repeat and is definitely one of the strongest efforts here.
Teddybears’ “Adagio for Tron” starts out as forgettable as the original, but then the bottom drops out and it becomes something much more interesting. Ki:Theory’s “The Son of Flynn” ratchets up the smile-inducing, old-school video game flavor in a way that’s quite appropriate for the setting and also makes the track stand out more. Moby’s version of the same is also interesting, albeit much less memorable—it’s floatier and less unique. It’d be at home in any club, but the intricacies of the music can easily get lost.
Meanwhile, Oakenfold’s “C.L.U.” is likely on its way to a throbbing nightclub near you as we speak. “Rinzler” by Kaskade is compelling and urgent, not to mention very dance-friendly. That blends seamlessly into Com Truise’s “Encom Part 2”, and you’re already sailing over the rainbow on your way to electronic music happy-land, where all the clouds are made of synthy fuzz and it rains heavy dance beats. You’re not even really paying attention to the music any more, because you’re lost inside the beats and the patterns of the thing—ahh, bliss. This is exactly the sort of moment that was missing with the Daft Punk incarnation.
There are a few duds, however, as is almost inevitable with a crowd this size. M83 VS Big Black Delta’s version of “Fall” is downright annoying with its repetitions. Boys Noize doing “End of Line” sounds a lot like the Daft Punk version, which is to say that it’s kind of boring and easy to forget about. But on an album that features 15 contributors in addition to the original artists, there’s bound to be some mixed results. The fewer slower spots don’t take away from the rest of the remix, though.
Overall, Tron Legacy: R3CONFIGUR3D is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a quality collection of electronic music, engineered by two great composers and then tweaked by some of the genre’s best minds. It’s by turns soft and loud, gentle and harsh, humanistic and totally machine. And it’s very, very danceable. It’s the album you were hoping Daft Punk would write last time, only Daft Punk didn’t write it—but they did score a major assist from their friends here. Thanks, guys.