Music Reviews

Wendy Carlos

Tron: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Disney

The year is 1982. Yours truly is 11 years old. And though I don’t know it then, the kind of music I will one day call my favorite is nearing a peak – The Human League have already released Dare, ABC’s The Lexicon of Love is out, The Thompson Twins’ Into The Gap is a couple of years away. But I don’t care about any of that then.

So I go to see the movie Tron, a new Disney film with groundbreaking visual effects – the first feature film almost completely animated with computers. The film dazzles me and I see it many times in the theater (ah, the days before video and DVD) and become fairly proficient at the tie-in video game. I also buy (or rather, persuade my mother to buy) not just one but two albums relating to the film: The “storybook” record, with narration, dialogue, and sound effects retelling the film, and the original motion picture soundtrack by Wendy Carlos.

Over the next two decades, my Tron albums get scratched and eventually lost. But I never forget their sound and, once I gets a CD player, I often wonder idly why the soundtrack has never been reissued. Once I gets online, I discover I’m not the only adult to have a warm spot in my heart for the score and ask that question – it recurs on movie music newsgroups and Carlos has a whole page devoted to answering it on her Web site.

But then, computers having all but taken over the special effects industry and with the rise of Pixar, Disney decides the time is ripe for a Tron 20th Anniversary DVD Edition. And to go along with it, they release the score on CD. With bonus tracks, yet, though not the same pieces included on the DVD (clever, clever Disney). And with, unfortunately, the two Journey songs included to try to pick up some of that “Up Where We Belong” chart action (it didn’t work; these are inarguably the most dated tracks on the CD – thank God for the skip function)

People like me who have been waiting for this record as though we were on hold with tech support don’t need to be told what a gift it’s release is. But for you electronica/trance fans: This score’s influence on the kind of music you love is almost as great as that the film had on the movie industry – which turned out to be a lot greater than anyone suspected back in 1982. As dazzling as the movie was to an 11 year-old child, to an adult’s eye it suffers from stilted dialogue, cardboard characters, and a not-always compelling storyline. No such baggage, however, weighs down the score, and 20 years later, it is the single best element of the film; just as beautiful as I remembered.

Wendy Carlos is a key figure in the popularization of electronic, synthetic music and as such, an angel or a devil depending on where your head is. From my point of view (Human League, Human League, rah rah rah), she’s significant not just on a large scale but on a more personal one as well.

The score is based, as Carlos writes in her notes, on two themes; one, the “Love Theme,” was probably instrumental in making sure I never accepted the idea that technology and emotion were foreign to one another. Recurring in several different orchestrations, it is never less than sublime, a romantic lullaby for the last generation to remember when there weren’t home computers.

A unique mixture of electronics, orchestra, and chorus, the score should have been nominated for an Academy Award, that kid thinks today. But then, the technology of it mattered little to him – he just knew it sounded beautiful.

Wendy Carlos: http://www.wendycarlos.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Dawn Riding

Dawn Riding

Music Reviews

You’re Still Here (The Long Road Society and Speakeasy Studios SF). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

Little Feat

Little Feat

Event Reviews

With Miko Marks opening a wonderful evening in Iowa City, Little Feat plunder their back catalog as Jeremy Glazier stands beneath the freak flag.

Meditations on Crime

Meditations on Crime

Print Reviews

Politics is Crime. Crime is Politics. Discuss… Carl F. Gauze reviews Meditations on Crime, the book half of Harper Simon’s super-collaborative art and music project.

Porn and Ice Cream

Porn and Ice Cream

Screen Reviews

Three aimless misfits find themselves a purpose when they unwittingly start a band. It’s not your typical rock story, as Ian Koss explains.

Fire and Iceland

Fire and Iceland

Interviews

New York filmmaker April Anderson talks with Bob Pomeroy about volcanoes, horses, and making documentaries in Iceland.

Best of Film 2022

Best of Film 2022

Screen Reviews

With a year of festival and microcinema screenings behind them, Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite films, six supplemental features, and one exceptional repertory release of 2022.

Laura Citarella

Laura Citarella

Interviews

Director Laura Citarella, of the famed filmmaking collective El Pampero Cine, has created with her newest feature Trenque Lauquen a provocative transformation of her protagonist Laura (Laura Parades), whom Citarella first introduced in her 2011 film Ostende. Lily and Generoso enjoyed an in-depth conversation with Citarella about Trenque Lauquen when it screened at AFI Fest 2022.

New Music Now 009: Sleepyhead

New Music Now 009: Sleepyhead

Features

Join us for a new edition of New Music Now, with our special musical guest, Sleepyhead. All three members of the band are school teachers, so you didn’t hear it from us, but there might be a pop quiz about their album New Alchemy after the show.

%d bloggers like this: