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Soundtrack review: Legion (season 2) (Jeff Russo – 2018)


Soundtrack review: Legion (season 2) (Jeff Russo – 2018)



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. Dan Stevens stars as Haller, a mutant diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, and Jean Smart also star, along with Katie Aselton during the first season, as well as Navid Negahban, Jemaine Clement, and Hamish Linklater for the second season. Jeff Russo wrote the score and this is a review of the music for the second season.

I liked the strange musical musings of the first season so I am hopeful for this one as well. The score opens with “Dance battle” which is a cold and pulsating electronic piece with a precise rhythm that mimics a loud heartbeat. Jeff Russo writes for like dozens of TV shows every year and yet manages to keep the sound of “Legion” special and unique. This brand of electronics sounds retro and early, simple enough but still hypnotic. The inserts of orchestral motifs, violin and a tortured cello increase the hypnotic feeling of this “Dance battle”. The weird and uncomfortable Legion atmosphere is even more obvious in the next cue, “Farouk – The shadow king”; it’s even hard to describe this cue as the composer creates a special texture for the show, a texture that includes both velvet and broken glass. The music always questions something and is layered in a way that creates the illusion of hallucinations. I am also a sucker for tortured strings and here we have plenty.

The sense of doom that was creeping through the first cues gets more obvious in “Future Syd”. This is the kind of cue, the kind of score actually that intrigues me and makes me
want to rush and see the show to put some strange images next to this music. Jeff Russo experiments in a way that reminds me of scientists from 50s and 60s Sci-fi movies. And when in all this doom comes a soothing piano motif I am conquered. Plus there is always that retro synth vibe that I love so much. And really when the longest piece from this score (13 minutes!) has a parenthesis after the title that just says “synth”, to be clear what version it is,I don’t need more. It is a strange, experimental cue that reminds me of the variations from the complete Twin Peaks archives; it has the same sparse and uncomfortable, psychotic mood that I can’t walk away from. There are also distorted voices in the background of this monster cue.

The length of some of the cues adds to the hypnotic, hallucinatory nature of this score. Jeff Russo goes all in or, better said, all out there with this score, further deepening
the mystique of his “Legion” music. This album will clearly not be for everyone and if you don’t enjoy electronic experiments you will not have fun listening to it. There are no themes or melodies as this composition is a tapestry of strange sounds, sometimes reminiscent of William Orbit’s music. It worked for me as a standalone listening experience.

Cue rating: 72 / 100

Farouk / The Shadow King
End of Life

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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