I can assure you right off the bat that The Legend of Korra: Original Music From Book One
is the most mature, daring, and adventurous album of music that we’ll probably ever receive under the Nick Records label. The original score from Avatar
definitely took itself seriously on a lot of levels, but being the much more mature show that The Legend of Korra
is as Avatar’s
successor, its soundtrack realizes the ideas of its predecessor’s score even more fully. The concept of the soundtrack’s musical direction that composer Jeremy Zuckerman had in mind was to blend “traditional Chinese music with early jazz,” and thankfully an idea as interesting as that is successful in its execution and makes for an original score with fresh variety (especially for a soundtrack to a show on a children’s network) and very diverse cultural influences that integrates Dixieland, cinematic orchestral music, and organic Chinese roots music (genres that alone sparsely resemble anything in common with one another, mind you) so well into the boiling pot that it shatters cultural boundaries in music, and fluidly brings sounds from different ends of the globe together in harmony. I think we can all agree that’s a pretty damn impressive achievement of ambition for a soundtrack album being released under Nick Records.
The rowdy jazz numbers provide the music for moments of comedic relief that makes for infectiously stylish and brazen fun, instead of succumbing to the tired trend of quirky orchestration used for comedic moments in most modern American soundtracks. Another strong point about the soundtrack is that no matter what type of music Zuckerman is working with on this score, it sounds stunningly authentic in its resemblance to what inspired it. But that’s not to say this authenticity is done in a copycat fashion; Zuckerman’s usage of cellos and pan flutes have the intention of bringing to mind a realistic portrait of music from specific cultures, but he gives it a unique identity to the show by finding an emotional resonance that comfortably ties all his influences together under the same roof. Zuckerman provides music that not only toggles different styles within the same track, but varying emotions that range from the heights of majesty to the plummeting depths of gloom and despair. Make no mistake, this is music that has the determination to have a wide scope that allows for emotional and musical variety on all angles.
Between the crestfallen flutes, raw tribal percussion, charging violins, and obscure ethnic instruments that evoke fascination, The Legend of Korra
soundtrack is a layered and potent collection of music that has moments that prove to be as intense as cuts from the soundtrack of a Lord of the Rings
film, while providing special and surprisingly crisp sonic variety that few other scores of its ilk have to offer. It’s a milestone in sophistication for Nick Records, and the commendable results of an ambitious and admirable effort to bring more forward-thinking ideas into more attention-demanding music for television shows on children-oriented networks.