Friday, 6 March 2009

Not such a Daft idea

There was much excitement when I read an article in the trades this week, stating that French electro duo Daft Punk will be supplying the score for the belated sequel to Disney’s 1982 cult classic, Tron. If the makers can successfully blend the film’s aesthetic with the retro-digital stylings of Daft Punk, this could potentially be a perfect marriage between movie and music. I’m actually surprised more directors don’t use electronic artists and after having sat through the painfully monotonous piano interludes in Revolutionary Road recently, I’m not sure I want to hear another traditional film score anymore.

There are a number of respected, electronic artists out there (Trentemøller, M83, Sascha Funke and Booka Shade to name but a small few) whose music sounds like it’s been purposely created and conceived to run alongside a narrative. A few have even been getting in on the act. Progressive, breaks/classical house band Hybrid have teamed up with Hollywood composers Harry Gregson-Williams and John Murphy in the past, while Underworld have contributed to the scores for Sunshine and Breaking and Entering. Daft Punk too, are familiar with this process, although in a reverse way. They commissioned a feature-length anime sci-fi film, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, to work as a soundtrack to the tracks on their 2001 album, Discovery. One half of the duo, Thomas Bangalter, composed the frantic and literally nauseating score for Gasper Noe’s Irreversible (2002).

The film music of Tangerine Dream is perhaps considered the benchmark when it comes to electronic scores. Coming from a background within the Krautrock movement in Germany during the late 60’s-early 70’s, the band produced a series of film soundtracks a decade later, the majority of these which still sound fresh and innovative today (my ipod’s playlists are populated by many of them). Their ability to set the tone and mood of a film was often mesmerising, and it’s never more evident and captivating than a scene from the film Near Dark where Caleb and Mae, the film’s two young protagonists, meet for the first time at night, on a blue neon-spilled street.

I’m really eager for more contemporary musicians to follow in the footsteps of these guys. It would also make sense financially, for whoever’s funding a film, to seek out a well-known electronic artist. Daft Punk have got a huge following and I’m guessing there will be a lot more bums-in-seats when the sequel to Tron is released in cinemas, with fans of the group curious to hear what they have produced and how it’s been used on screen.

Come on Hollywood and Britain - start digging deeper when looking for artists to score your movies. There’s an untapped goldmine out there!

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