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Soundtrack review: Legion (vol 2) (Jeff Russo – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Legion (vol 2) (Jeff Russo – 2017)

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“Legion” is an American cable television series created for FX by Noah Hawley, based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion. It is connected to the X-Men film series, the first television series to be so, and is produced by FX Productions in association with Marvel Television. Hawley serves as showrunner on the series. David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age and has been a patient in various psychiatric hospitals since. After Haller has an encounter with a fellow psychiatric patient, he is confronted with the possibility that there may be more to him than mental illness. Jeff Russo wrote the score and earlier this year we had a first release that I really loved. This is a second volume with more cues from the show.

What I really enjoyed in the first volume were the quirks of a musical experiment that succeeded. Jeff Russo picks up right where he left of with “Caper 1” which is a mix of grandiose orchestral motifs and short and playful electronic beats. Sometimes I’m not even sure it’s electronic music but xylophone sounds and bell chimes. Somehow they all come together in a way that makes me smile and helps me connect very easily with the score. “Chasing David” follows the same pattern of these sounds breaking up an orchestral motif.

As this is a Noah Hawley score and his shows are now the quirkiest on TV (I would say the weirdest as well but David Lynch and Brian Fuller have shows on and they take the cake) the music jumps in all sorts of places and I feel like I am falling down the proverbial rabbit hole when I hear a cue like “First entry into the clockworks”; it’s a short cue but nevertheless one that makes me want to visit that world and its mysteries and surprises. An out of synch and tortured violin is all it takes for me to get excited and enjoy the music.

The longest piece on this volume is simply and suggestively entitled “Harpsichord with undercurrent”. You know the main instrument and you know what makes this score work: the undercurrent that’s present in every cue in a different form. The music is layered and fascinating like the show itself and sometimes that undercurrent (ambient in this particular cue, as if that harpsichord was placed somewhere in the middle of a calm lake) is more interesting than the main motif. The hide and seek between them makes me not want to miss one second of this score. “Harpsichord with undercurrent”, by far the best cue of this score, makes me think of “Twin Peaks” and its mysterious and addictive misty atmosphere especially when the harpsichord takes a break and the superb ambient motif takes over. This one is imperfect as well and there are a lot of scars in this cue, deep scars that come from a far past.

Sometimes the music gets close to Trent Reznor territory, so minimalistic and dark that it almost fades away if it didn’t have those scary teeth; “Springs” is a proper horror cue and even if this score is less than half an hour long it’s already provided enough excitement for me to consider it a winner.

If you watched the show and enjoyed it you will get a lot from this score; even without seeing the series the music of these two volumes got me very interested. Pick this one up if you loved the first one.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 20

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:
Caper 1
First Entry Into Clockworks
Harpsichord With Undercurrent
Springs

 

 

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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