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Legacy by Mark Kilian


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Legacy (Soundtrack) by Mark Kilian

Composed by Mark Kilian
Lakeshore Records (2010)

Rating: 8/10

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“...Mark Kilian’s score for LEGACY is one of pure instinct and reaction. It holds no single specific genre and lacks any sort of recognisable theme in its composition and therefore provides an unpredictable, innovative listening experience. ”

Instinct and Reaction
Review by Richard Buxton

Non-linear story telling is by no means a new concept in film, however the idea of a non-linear score to accompany a film that exhibits such structural complexities is something rarely found in the current film climate. In today’s film industry, the thought of venturing beyond the comfort zone is seemingly a frightening one for many filmmakers. This not only applies to the film itself but also to the score. The easy way to success is often established through the use of a template, one that defines the dos and don’ts of the scoring process. Therefore it is a pleasant surprise when the template is discarded in favour of something that is almost entirely unique in its form.
On first listen, Mark Kilian’s score for LEGACY is one of pure instinct and reaction. It holds no single specific genre and lacks any sort of recognisable theme in its composition and therefore provides an unpredictable, innovative listening experience.  The music on offer ranges from your typical pulsating action thriller to what borders on horror. Such an amalgamation only serves to accelerate the fraught pace and suspense of LEGACY.
As Malcolm Gray (Idris Elba) confronts both his past and immediate future, his world begins to collapse around him. The increasing claustrophobia and intensity of "Legacy" combine to create an edge-of-the-seat experience, one that is duplicated in Kilian’s score.
Opening with “Incursion”, the score immediately sets the tone of the score. However it is in this track that Kilian’s most generic effort of the entire soundtrack is heard. The rising strings lead into a frantic pulsing bass line often heard in the likes of Sean Callery’s “24”. The strong use of percussion, however, is what sets this piece apart from other typical action pieces. While brief, the crashing drums follow an unpredictable and often jarring pattern. From here on in, "Legacy" only becomes more unorthodox.
As the walls begin to close in on the protagonist, Kilian begins his assault upon the senses. The complexity and structure of “Prologue” are commendable in that it consists of multiple strands and ideas, yet it avoids the omnipresent danger of becoming a two-minute piece made up of unrelated themes. The deep assortment of timbre is exemplified in such an unpredictable nature. The pounding of the percussion leads into a striking use of haunting vocals that almost come from nowhere, yet never feel out of place.
The powerful use of percussion is continued in “Dead End”, while the synthetic heartbeat forms a brooding and imposing rhythm. The multiple rises of dissonant brass and string only enhance the breathlessness of the piece as Malcolm Gray delves deeper into his past.
Not wanting to disappoint the listener and break the precedent already set beforehand, Kilian conjures up “Valentina”. The haunting piano evokes a surreal and disturbing atmosphere, enhanced by the phasing and the flange. The juxtaposing elements of the score are expertly shown in the startling difference between “Valentina” and the previous track “Dead End”. The ideas are at opposing ends of the musical spectrum, yet they both sustain the unease and suspense that is so prevalent in LEGACY.
LEGACY takes a further turn into the schismatic as Gray reflects on his past missions as a member of Black Ops. The Arabic nature of the melody is made up of familiar ideas and influences, but yet again, the use of percussion maintains a crawling feeling of the unknown at the forefront.
“Building A Legacy” is one of the more comforting pieces of the score, in that it consists of musical familiarity and elements that are more often encountered in film scores. Therefore it is a welcome respite from the relentless intensity. The sombre strings form what is thus far the closest to what can be called a theme for LEGACY and its protagonist. The initial lack of percussion means a dramatic reduction in pace, yet its inevitable return signals the re-emergence of “Legacy’s” true nature.
In creating such an unpredictable basis for a score, Kilian ran the risk of losing the listener and potentially the viewer audience too. However, admirably he has managed to create a palette of sounds and rhythms that continually stimulate the audience and demand attention. The almost entirely synthetic “Wolf Among Sheep” is a strong example of this. The piece is made up of very little development, but manages to sustain a strong and exciting texture. It is more subdued in its complexities, but does nothing to break the pattern of eccentricity.
Kilian’s ideas that were encountered the first half of the score continue to develop in the subsequent tracks, with “You’ll All Know” and “What I Do” harking back to the ideas established in “Back Home” as the strings portray the reflective nature of the narrative, while “Scars” is a piece clearly based upon the foundation of “Valentina”. “Descent” is an immediate thrust back into the action, as the percussion, air-raid like Brass and rising strings bring the pulsating piece to a strong climax.
It is in “Legacy’s” closing moments that the greatest and most unpredictable surprise arrives. It is generally expected that as a film draws to its conclusion and final moments, the pace and intensity are ramped up to unprecedented levels. This, however, is not the case in “Legacy’s” score. The final pieces maintain the suspense already set, but do so in a far more subdued manner. “Self Inflicted” builds the tension, interrupted by the return of the dissonant strings, leading into “Darnell Arrives”, a piece consisting of ample action, but action that never reaches the breathlessness of previous tracks. “Confrontation”, despite the name is almost calming when compared to the rest of the score. The constant underlying texture builds as the pulsing accelerates the tension once more. LEGACY comes to a close with “Goodbye Again”, a piece that fully utilizes the scarcely heard vocals, before an abrupt end.

Rating: 8/10




Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Incursion 2:31  ****
2 Prologue 2:12  ****
3 Back Home 2:07  ***
4 Dead End 1:45  ****
5 Valentina 0:54  ***
6 Memories 1:31  ****
7 Dancing with the Enemy 2:21  ****
8 Fix It 2:04  **
9 Builidng a Legacy 3:13  ****
10 A Wolf Among Sheep 0:47  ***
11 Special Delivery 2:50  ***
12 No Way Out 4:41  ***
13 You'll All Know 1:25  ***
14 What I Do 3:11  ***
15 Nightmares 1:30  ****
16 Descent 2:34  ****
17 That Ringing 0:58  ****
18 Darnell Feels the Heat 1:53  ***
19 Reunited 5:21  ***
20 Scars 1:50  ***
21 Disappearing Act 1:53  ***
22 Self Inflicted 1:38  ****
23 Darnell Arrives 1:24  ***
24 Confrontation 4:57  ***
25 Goodbye Again 1:55  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 57 minutes  




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