Legion, Vol. 2 – Soundtrack Review

Baz Greenland delves into the musical madness of Legion as he reviews the season 2 soundtrack by Jeff Russo.

With innovative, psychedelic, mind-blowing superhero series Legion currently airing its second season run, Lakeshore Records have released the soundtrack from composer Jeff Russo.

Russo was nominated for a Peabody for his work on Legion and Star Trek: Discovery. Taking the same auditory cues as the series itself, the soundtrack is as innovative, psychedelic and mind-blowing as anything happening on screen.

The Legion season two soundtrack is available to download digitally now.

The Review…

While the soundtrack to Legion conveys the same moments of epic drama, tension and emotional intensity as the likes of Russo’s work on the likes of Fargo or Star Trek: Discovery (you can read our reviews of the season one soundtrack release from Lakeshore Records here), there is also a very different flavour to his work composing for this unique superhero series.

The abnormal story beats, intense journeys into character minds and the dramatic flair of big dance numbers allow Russo to experiment more heavily. The season two soundtrack is clearly a work of passion; you can feel the innovation and love of orchestra, synth sounds and alternative instruments in every piece. It’s not simple listening, but then Legion isn’t a simple show.

The soundtrack can be distinctly split into three sections; the opening range of big, experimental numbers, the second a series of short, intense, atmospheric scores barely more than a minute each and then a final run of tracks that expand the themes of the show with some longer, thought-provoking pieces.

The opening track ‘Dance Battle’ is one hell of a start, combining a funky techno beat with moments of tension and drama; the offbeat synth sounds leads into gorgeous, taught string movements. ‘Farouk / The Shadow King’ is equally as bold. It’s packed with atmosphere, distorted synth beats, and what could quite possibly be a Theremin; it’s a rollercoaster of feeling; deranged and sad, haunting and beautiful.

The third track ‘Future Syd’ starts off like a dramatic, slightly unhinged Beethoven score before developing into a lovely piano solo, gentle rising strings full of passion. This is gorgeous piece, the darker rolling synth chords and beats adding to Legion’s distinct flavour. This is followed by ‘Many Days’ a huge track at 12.47 minutes but it is packed with atmosphere and emotion. The low rumbling synth chords create a sense of darkness and despair, while the distorted voices and heavy beat is forbidding; it reminded me of a fantastical 80s futuristic horror movie score, bleak, industrial, haunting. Full of atmosphere and emotion. Ended the first phase of longer tracks is ‘Where is David?’ Russo returns to the funky techno beat of the opening track, packing in tribal drums and a fast paced, relentless, unsettling distorted synth. This is dark, futuristic, urban and industrial and utterly absorbing.

The next set of tracks are short, sweet and atmospheric. The sixth track, ‘Lenny and Oliver (Farouk)’ has a very dangerous feel as it mixes piano and strings, while ‘Division 24’ ups the atmospheric ante with weird, gentle synth chords. Track eight, ‘Orange Bridge’ employs menacing synth beats and a repeating rhythm, full of danger, followed by ‘Sliding Door David’, another offbeat piece with its strained heavy string movements that add a sense of unease and tension.

Track 11, ‘End of Life’ is slow and mournful, with a gorgeous slow string melody, while ‘Lost in the Desert’ has a great little funky techno beat; it’s fast paced and earnest. ‘208 Main on Ends’ is another standout piece, the plucked strings and heavy synth chords, giving it a real haunted feel. The most unhinged piece on the soundtrack is ‘Laboratory’ with disturbing frenzied string movements, high-pitched sounds and heavy horns; it’s just 45 seconds long but it is straight out of a Hitchcockian nightmare.

The final four tracks are given more room to breathe. ’89 Days’ is another magnificent piece; starting with ominous, beautiful slow strings and a grim occasional percussion beat, the whispers and occasion deep laugh create something chilling The main string movement is beautiful and melancholy, while the distorted voices towards the end are disturbing. If there was ever a track to sum up Legion, this is probably it.

‘Track 15, ‘The Magic Man’ is another creepy and beautiful piece, Russo delivering a slow, atmospheric opening; the beautiful harp contrasting the eerie synth sounds and strained strings. ‘Carousel’ is playful and sinister, it is given the feel of a child playing a xylophone, giving way heavy chords at the end that leave it on a sinister edge. The final track ‘208 Main on Ends (Full Version)’ revisits the earlier track with vibrant, synth electronic beats and racing strings creating tension. There is a sweeping mix of orchestral and synth that Russo employs so well in his score for Legion, and makes for an epic and haunting conclusion to the album.

The soundtrack to Legion is the perfect companion for the show; it’s challenging, rich and not easy listening, but packed full of atmosphere and passion to make for a thought-provoking listening experience.

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