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BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - SEASON TWO (2006)

 

Music composed by Bear McCreary. Additional music by Richard Gibbs (“Main Title”).

23 Tracks (Playing Time = 78:53)

Album produced by Bear McCreary, Steve Kaplan, and Ford A. Thaxton. Score produced by Bear McCreary and Steve Kaplan Score orchestrated and conducted by Bear McCreary. Also featuring performances by the Supernova String Quartet. Score recorded and mixed by Steve Kaplan. Score recorded at Stage M at Paramount Studios and Eastwood Scoring Stage, Warner Bros. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. Art direction by Mark Banning.

La-La Land Records LLLCD 1049

Rating: ***1/2

 

If you are a fan of this Sci-Fi import, you will already be one of the appreciators of the contributions of McCreary to this program. La-La Land continues its musical releases from this reincarnation of the Glen A. Larson series with this collection of music from Season Two.

Highlights for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fans will be the opening “Colonial Anthem” from the episode “Final Cut.” The track includes music adapated and arranged from Stu Philips theme for the original series as well as music from the episode “Exploration.” As a person who vaguely remembers the 1970s series and various recordings of this theme, it was like getting a visit from an old friend. But, added into the mix are the various ambient and electronic musical ideas, as well as the various ethnic musical influences that make up a part of the new series. In the four-minute track, McCreary does an amazing job of bridging the two series musically.

There are selections from episodes throughout Season Two dispersed and arranged more for musical flow than for chronology. The music is similar to much of season one but the orchestral forces are a bit larger for parts of this score. Of exquisite beauty, and almost worth the price of the disc alone, is the string quartet cue, “A Promise to Return.” It is one of the rare chances that McCreary gets to show off his compositional muscle. The quickly moving movement features a gorgeous lyric line that instantly engages the listener. This idea flows into a string orchestra cue, “Allegro” which again allows McCreary to illustrate his orchestration ability in a restricted ensemble size. The music lies in keeping with other contemporary work for string orchestra—a fabulous piece of music on its own.

McCreary’s use of ethnic elements are keyed into specific emotional and action-related sequences in the series. They have a tendency to give the score a more global sound. A couple of vocal segments provide an additional world sound to the music. It is interesting to hear this sound in a way that is more engaging than the general wailing and whining often plaguing Hollywood film music. McCreary uses this sound as an extension of the idea heard in “Lords of Kobol” where it is an actual lyric-based song. When it appears on the disc, it sheds light on the previous appearance of this music.

Another new sound is the inclusion of electric guitar sections. This is quite effective in a meditative way in “Pegasus,” the effect, is a nice contrast to the other material. It kind of reminded me of Greg Edmonson’s work on FIREFLY and even David Newman’s score for SERENITY. That someone else has landed on this hybrid ethnic style for scoring science fiction is nothing to get too excited about, however, the quality of the music here is worth hearing. The closest similarly styled piece is the beautiful “Roslin and Adama.”

The extensive action cues of the previous disc are not as prevalent here which actually turns out to work far better given the generous timing of this release. The longest track, “Something Dark is Coming,” is a kind of miniature suite of sorts that lays out various musical sounds and ideas from the series with an early emphasis on a kind of laid back electric guitar idea from the “Pegasus” cue. Overall, the disc scratches the surface of the music composed for this season in a way that allows you to admire the work of its composer and the freedom for him to create a score that allows for an ongoing organic sound and development. This disc provides a fine overview of the material.

The primary difference perhaps between this release and that for Season One, is that here McCreary’s music has a chance to bloom and grow more integrally. The music is nicely paced between longer extensive tracks, two of which last over eight minutes, and smaller contained atmospheric episodes. It works quite well overall. In terms of musical presentation, La-La Land has done there usual superb job of recording and presenting the score material in a way that makes for interesting and engaging listening.

The one thing that would be of value for future releases would be at least an episode list with airdates if possible (though that may not be as easy). What is obvious is that the music just gets better with each passing season.

 

--Steven A. Kennedy , 20 June 2006

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com


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