Altered Carbon

Musical Score By: Jeff Russo

Songs By: Sune Rose Wagner and Renée Elise Goldsberry

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on the novel by Richard K. Morgan, the Netflix series, Altered Carbon, takes place in the year 2384.  In this futuristic world, consciousness can be digitized and death is no longer permanent as human bodies are now interchangeable.  Enter Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), the lone surviving soldier of a band of elite warriors defeated in an uprising against the new world order.  He is given the opportunity to live again, spending the rest of his time in prison, or solving the murder of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), the man who has just brought him back from the “dead.”

                The Altered Carbon Soundtrack features two original songs by Sune Rose Wagner and a cover of Johnny Cash’s Ain't No Grave by one of the stars of the series, Renée Elise Goldsberry.  It also contains musical score created by award-winning composer Jeff Russo who began his musical career in 1990 as founder of the band Tonic.  He began composing for short films until 2009 when he composed music for the television series The Unusuals.  Since then, he has composed musical scores for such notable projects as Necessary Roughness, Hostages, Fargo, Battle Creek, Extant, CSI: Cyber, American Gothic, Lucifer, Lizzie, Bull, Waco, Santa Clarita Diet, Power and Legion.

                Having been a fan of Jeff Russo’s music since he was in Tonic, it came as no surprise to me that I would enjoy his musical compositions for television and film.  The score is mainly orchestral with some interesting sound mixed in.  The Altered Carbon Main Titles features an orchestral theme with intelligible whispering in the background.  Consciousness features ethereal female vocals and strings giving the listener the sense of beauty and a growing awareness.  According to Russo, “The first scene I scored was when Kovacs is brought back to life…It seemed appropriate to first work on the scene in which our main character is reborn into the body he would occupy for the series. That also allowed me to showcase the threading of voices throughout the score that would become its cornerstone sound.”  Those ethereal vocals will appear in other parts of the score.  As will ominous and dark undertones that begin in Her Daughter and work their way through as Takeshi tries to figure out who killed Bancroft.

                I loved the score and I couldn’t help but enjoy the rocking tracks of Sune Rose Wagner.  Then I heard Ain’t No Grave by Renée Elise Goldsberry and I was wowed.  This is an old Johnny Cash song that I had always felt to be very poignant.  It fits in perfectly here and is performed brilliantly by Goldsberry.  It’s a great way to end the soundtrack and a great way to close out the final episode of the first season of Altered Carbon.

                The Altered Carbon Soundtrack is just the right length and contains just the right mix of score and songs, making it the perfect album for fans of the series or fans of Jeff Russo.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Altered Carbon Soundtrack…and again the second time…and the third…well, you get it.


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