AUDIO REVIEW: TRON (1982) / COMPOSER: WENDY CARLOS / LABEL: AUDIO FIDELITY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The Audio Fidelity repress and remaster of Wendy Carlos' score to the 1982 Disney sci-fi cult classic, Tron, is an amazing release. The packaging and presentation are amazing, with translucent blue 180-gram virgin vinyl being the most notable thing about it. Then, you open the gatefold sleeve and read music supervisor Michael Fremer's recent essay about the production of music, and it's even better.
Fremer offers insights into working with Carlos (who has an essay of her own), as well as why they ended up using Journey and details on the remastering process. The cover art is crisp and amazing, and this might be one of the best reissues I've had the privilege of taking out of the packaging and putting on my turntable.
That, sadly, is where the problems exist. The vinyl itself is mastered perfectly - highs are clean and clear, lows come through with vibrancy and feeling - and the Journey tracks fit in nicely. Spreading the music out over two LPs gives it plenty of room to breathe, as well. The problem is that the score has not aged well in the over three decades since it was composed.
The electronics sound plinky, for lack of a better term. From start to finish, it reminded me nothing so much as playing Sierra video games like King's Quest or Space Quest on my first computer. The music shares a commonality with Carlos' past work, in that instead of using the synthesiser to generate new and interesting sounds, she uses it to generate sounds reminiscent of traditional classical instrumentation, resulting in music that certainly sounded futuristic at the time.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, it doesn't even sound retro-futuristic. For all of Carlos' forward-thinking in terms of instrumentation, her compositions demonstrate all of the limitations of what she's working with, rather than their potential. When one compares the Tron score to similar electronic work released the same year, like Blade Runner or The Thing, it only ages Carlos' work for the worse.
If you were already a fan of the score, and want to own it in the best package one could possibly have, Audio Fidelity's reissue of the Tron score is absolutely what you need to own. If you've any doubts or you're not particularly a fan, you might want to save your money. The packaging trumps the music by a factor of 100:1 in this case.