Musical Score By: Jeff Russo
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Based on the Marvel Comics series, Legion stars Dan Stevens as David Haller, a troubled young man who, diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. Now in his thirties, David has succumbed to the monotonous routine of the hospital until the arrival of Syd (Rachel Keller). A striking encounter with Syd forces David to realize that the voices he has been hearing all his life are actually real and the visions he experiences are due to a mutation in his genes. Escaping the hospital and seeking shelter with his sister Amy (Katie Aselton), but this is not an ideal situation. Syd eventually guides him to Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), a therapist with a sharp mind, unconventional methods and a team of specialist who help David see his potential.
The musical score of Legion was created by American composer, songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and music producer Jeff Russo, best known as one of the founding members of Tonic. Beginning his foray into television and film scoring in 2014 with Fargo, for which he received two Emmy nominations, Jeff Russo has created score for a number of projects, including The Night Of, Power, Three Christs, Lizzie and Altered Carbon.
The Legion television series features a character who believes he has issues with an altered state of reality and then learns that he is actually a mutant with special powers. This begs for an unusual sounding score and Jeff Russo definitely delivers. According to the composer, “When I first started working on Legion, the showrunner Noah Hawley gave me some great feedback regarding the tonal palate, he suggested I read neurologist Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations. It was a fascinating read and it really did help inspire. It is all about the way that our mind can change our perception of reality and what that says about our brains. It was something that directed me right to where this amazing show was going…I used many esoteric synths from the 70s including something called a ‘synthi.’ That along with a traditional cinematic orchestral sound makes up most of the sound of the score. I also used a lot of bowing metals...springs, and different kinds of metal percussion.”
The resulting score is a mix of strings and electric/electronic sound. The first track, Young David, features piano keys in a higher scale, chime-like sounds and guitar, suggesting the innocence of youth, but the off-key sound of the violin lets us know that something just isn’t right in David’s world. The third track, 174 Hours, begins with a quiet cacophony of voices, offering us a glimpse as to what David’s uncontrolled powers are like…a bit on the spooky side. The entire album features disjointed and often unusual sounds. For example, the Legion Main Title contains the sounds of buttons being pushed on a phone. Reverb accompanies the strange sounds found on the Legion Soundtrack, perhaps expressing David’s mind in an altered state or maybe giving us a little insight into what David feels like when he accesses his powers.
Although the Legion Soundtrack is a mix of score and sound effects, one cannot deny that it is absolutely perfect for the subject matter at hand. A fan of the band, Tonic, I was quite interested in hearing what he would have to offer for the Legion score. I happen to think he did an excellent job and fans of the television series are going to want to get their hands on the Legion Soundtrack.