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Lights, Camera, Action (On The Dance Floor): The Best Electronic Film Soundtracks Ever

From Trent Reznor to Daft Punk, these are the producers responsible for the most recognizable film soundtracks.

by Kathryn Kyte
Jul 22 2014, 1:14am

Soundtracks continue to bewitch adventurous ears, making us desire the sounds behind the screen. However, there are some noticeable compilations, mixed and mastered by a talented flock of producers that have lent a support net, polished the final product and shown the meaning of super-composers. Here are seven of the best electronic film soundtracks.

The Social Network

The film, directed by David Fincher, was an adaption of Mark Zuckerberg's inclusive and intrusive online empire, better known as Facebook—hopefully you already knew that. The flick may have stirred interest, but it was the soundtrack put together by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that made for large recognition, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Its industrialized melodic tone holds an addictive zone out desire, one that takes over with rising urgency. It was packaged beautifully; both rhythmically and aesthetically while proving to be another winning collaboration between the Nine Inch Nails front man and the man who brought us Fight Club. Key to note is Fincher first enlisted Trent Reznor in the development of Fight Club's soundtrack back in 1999. Stick with what works.

Drive

Drive was a cool and suave movie with an equally charming soundtrack. From the onset, Kavinsky's "Nightcall" 80s-pinched sequences invited listeners into an exciting electronic playground. The track was co-written by Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo from Daft Punk and the seductive tempo fit nicely with the film's sexy, adrenaline-pumping plotline. Standouts on the 2011 soundtrack include "Under Your Spell," which cascades as the two lead characters (Gosling and Mulligan) explore their connected journey, and "Tick of the Clock" performed by the Portland-bred band, the Chromatics. The score was compiled and composed by the long-vetted, French house producer, Cliff Martinez.

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi futuristic film featured the invasion of robot subjects. The film's eerie, transformative nature acted as the perfect bedrock for a soundtrack rich with spliced beats. The retro-noir compilation was packaged with the use of modern production tools, allowing for further expansion into the electronic realm. Who doesn't want to consume compositions whipped up by Greek pioneer, Vangelis, while watching operatives patrol the streets and attack? Recorded through Atlantic Records, the album wasn't a top hitting score, but did manage to grace the top of the UK Charts upon its actual drop in 1994.

It was also an inspiring take that flirted with dark ambiance and synthesizers with a well-tailored artistry. Legends are legends for a reason.

Tron: Legacy

Speaking of legends in the electronic community, the blockbuster of a hit that was Tron: Legacy fashionably acquired the gifted purveyors, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (a.k.a. Daft Punk), to score the Disney movie. The reviews of the soundtrack were mixed and upon release week it hit the No. 10 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. 22 pieces performed by an 85-person orchestra did help to curate a story. The crescendo arrangements and pockets of sonic spatters were smoothly combined with a classical tampering of grandeur proportions. The DJ duo is known to create auditory and visual odysseys and this big budget film (approximately $200 million with some sources quoting even higher) solidified its reign both with the PG listening market and the experiment-hungry music connoisseurs, making an album that seemed rather purified. Daft Punk's digital adaptation displayed a story of entrancing movements in sound and scope and let's be serious, everything these guys do just begs to be heard.

Attack the Block

Screeching bursts of sporadic compositions is what you'll find on this 2011 film's soundtrack, arranged and developed by the formidable twosome Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton of Basement Jaxx. The duo worked alongside fellow Brit, Steven Price (The Worlds End, Gravity,) to create a catalogue of jumbled-up mixes, layering funk with hip-hop and house with techno cuts—there's always a never-ending flow of twists when the lads of Basement Jaxx get their hands dirty. The film was made with an approximate budget of $13 million with a limited North American run. Even with the modest budget according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Attack the Block grossed over $1 million. Thanks to the deployment of the iconic British collective, songs like "The Ends," "The Block," and "Just Another Day" reminds us what strong dub and bass nuggets can do for an alien invasion flick. This was Basement Jaxx's first dose of film scoring too.

Hanna

2011 played a big role in the circulation of electronic soundtracks and one of the top motion pictures to have a strong score to match was the British-German thriller, Hanna. Like other staples on the list, the compilation of erotic brooding beat combos came from an act that knows a thing or two about the big beat tact—The Chemical Brothers. Bringing explosive acid-industrial renderings to the masses is what the statesmen have been credited with doing for over two decades. These guys don't sway and wait for the pendulum to fall, they jolt it back and forth until it snaps; this process is not lost in this film, which was directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement).

Midnight Express

This list would be incomplete without the inclusion of the man who made synth a sexy commodity, the Italian legend that goes by the name of Giorgio Moroder. Rewind to Moroder's scored, Midnight Express, a soundtrack steered within electronic disco-dance confines. The soundtrack also won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Film Soundtrack. Moroder has been credited with revolutionizing the impact of modern modular synthesizers and how such equipment continues, and will continue, to shape the output of recordings and instrumentals as a whole. Midnight Express featured many moving sound bites with delicately ripe synergies, playful horns and keys bouncing through time signatures; take the "The Chase" for example.

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